Bryan Noakes (1930-2020)

The less anyone notices the workings of the Industrial Relations system, the better it is actually working. Bryan Noakes passed away yesterday and this is in memoriam. I will just add that no one has had more influence on my professional life than Bryan who employed me at the Confederation of Australian Industry in 1980 where I continued as its Chief Economist until 2004. And as a personal memory, it is Bryan sitting across the table from Bob Hawke negotiating some agreement. You need a phlegmatic personality and a cast-iron constitution to sit through such moments – which I do not have – without getting angry but just get back into it for hours on end. Bryan did enormous amounts on behalf of this country that no one outside a small group within the “Industrial Relations Club” will ever have the slightest idea about.

One of Australia’s leading employer advocates both nationally and internationally, Bryan Noakes, died on Tuesday at the age of 89 after years of ill-health.

Noakes served in leading and senior positions with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and its predecessors from the 1960s through to the early 2000s.

In 2001, when he retired as ACCI’s director-general (industrial), he said the highlights of his career had been the achievement of labour market reforms in the 1980s and 1990s and steering the Confederation of Australian Industry’s 1991 landmark policy shift away from support for a centralised IR system.

His ACCI successor Peter Anderson, now a Fair Work Commission deputy president, said Noakes’ contribution to the national IR system had been formidable.

Even after his retirement he had continued to be a source of counsel to many, “myself included”.

“He was a serious man but did not take himself too seriously,” Anderson said.

“With his passing, and that of Bob Hawke and George Polites in the same 12-month-period, it is the end of an era of three industrial relations giants of our past generation.”

Bryan Noakes joined the Australian Council of Employers’ Federations (ACEF) in the early 1960s as an IR advisor on major construction projects, after cutting his teeth on the Snowy Mountains hydroelectricity project.

He eventually became the director-general of the Confederation of Australian Industry (which succeeded the ACEF) after the retirement of George Polites in 1983 and continued in a leading role with the formation of ACCI in 1992.

In a statement this week, ACCI described Noakes as a “significant, respected and well-liked figure across the political and industrial divide”.

He had worked “tirelessly” to represent the business community over a period of profound challenges in Australian industrial relations and resulting legislative reform under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments.

Another FWC member and ACCI colleague, Deputy President Reg Hamilton, said Noakes’ advocacy had played a major role in tribunal decisions and the major legislative changes of 1988, 1993 and 1996.

“He was able to judge proportionality well and avoided the obvious mistakes of appeasement or extremism.

“He also had good personal relationships with nearly everyone.”

While Noakes retired from ACCI in 2001, he completed his term (in 2004) as a member of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation, representing Asia-Pacific employers.

Deputy President Anderson said it was in the international arena where Noakes’ “star shined most brightly” and his “patient but firm advocacy” prompted governments to improve law and practice on industrial issues.

In its statement ACCI said Noakes won recognition for his significant work protecting the fundamental rights of both employers and trade unionists throughout the world through the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) and had been instrumental in the creation of an employer voice for the Asia Pacific region, through the Confederation of Asia Pacific Employers (CAPE).

ACCI workplace relations director Scott Barklamb said the perspectives Noakes developed from four decades at the peak of Australian and global IR continued to inform the work of ACCI.

“Union and employer colleagues throughout the world ask after Bryan to this day and express their profound respect and appreciation for his work, particularly as a leading figure in the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA).”

In 2003 Noakes became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his “service to industrial relations in Australia and overseas through policy development, fostering improved relations between employers and employees and as an expert in the area of international labour law” (see Related Article).

In February last year he attended a memorial celebration following the death of his former colleague and leader George Polites who he described as an influential figure who “always had a solution and it always worked”.

Just three months later he was paying tribute to another contemporary, former Prime Minister and ACTU secretary Bob Hawke.

“It is a cause for pause and reflection that two of our nation’s greatest industrial figures, Bob Hawke and George Polites respected differences, found common interest and have now passed at grand ages within months of each other,” he said in a personal statement following Hawke’s death.

Australia’s bushfires all you need to know

This is dead on: Media more destructive than fires:

Just like many other people I know, I have been inundated by messages from family and friends overseas, inquiring about my safety, having been terrified by the media reports of what seemed like an environmental armageddon engulfing the entire country….

Watching the hysterical and over-sensationalised coverage overseas has convinced many that the very existence of the nation is at stake. And the social media, if anything, has been even worse, with a number of completely misleading maps and photos exaggerating the extent of the affected areas by two-figure factors. As I pointed out, indeed the area the size of the state of Kentucky has been burned out, but unlike most other places on Earth, certainly in the developed world, Australia fits in nearly eighty Kentuckys, most of them pretty empty of human presence and activity.

Media sensationalises at the best of times in a never-ending quest for more eyeballs (“if it bleeds it leads”, or, in this case, “if it’s on fire, we’re on fire”) but the intersection of a large scale natural disaster with the “climate crisis” activism has generated a truly terrifying inferno of human passions where news becomes propaganda and the narrative trumps the objectivity. A significant proportion of the population – and the majority in the media – want to see the fires as Gaia’s wrath, with the disaster turning into green porn to terrify, titillate and agitate. Tourism has now become one of the casualties of this rhetorical excess, a collateral damage to the pursuit of a political agenda. This crisis is very much man-made and the economic pain unnecessarily inflicted on a whole industry because you wanted to make as terrible a point as possible will hang around your necks like a charred albatross, dear green activists on the streets and those masquerading as journalists.


Not to mention:

More like Craig Kelly needed

There is then the Turnbull wing of the Coalition which seems to cover around half the party. Which brings us to this in the Oz today: Bushfires: Scott Morrison courts states for fire inquiry. What exactly was the “trainwreck”here?

Amid international media criticism of Australia’s emissions policies, Mr Morrison also warned his MPs off interviews with overseas media outlets — a reference to Liberal back­bencher Craig Kelly’s trainwreck British TV interview in which he was attacked as a climate change denier.

This is the trainwreck:

Mr Kelly traded barbs with Laura Tobin and co-host Piers Morgan on the Good Morning Britain television program on Monday where he was accused of being a “climate denier” by the hosts over his views on the effect of global warming on Australia’s bushfire crisis.

Mr Kelly accused Tobin of being an “ignorant Pommy weather girl” in the now-deleted post and said that he “might have to send her some of the published peer-reviewed scientific papers on Australia’s weather.”

She sounds like just another standard-issue cookie-cutter climate alarmist. They are everywhere with nothing to show for it other than a failure to deal with actual environmental problems that have made the bushfires this year so devastating. She would be absolutely impervious to any peer-reviewed scientific papers or indeed, any evidence at all. Happily blighting the lives of billions across the planet because of some conjectures about the future trends in the weather. We need more Craig Kellys around to put the acid on to see if we can prevent a collapse of our economies while the cost of energy goes through the roof.

An Australian Wilderness of Mirrors

I read Wilderness of Mirrors a long time ago, after I had previously read CIA Diary and have been fascinated by the world of espionage ever since. So I will say this: whatever may be the truth or otherwise about Wang Liqiang who describes himself as a Chinese operative in Australia, this cannot yet be known to be true: Wang Liqiang: Beijing bit player at best as cloak-and-dagger claims fall away.

Wang claimed to have interfered with elections in Taiwan, ­infiltrated the student movement in Hong Kong and played a role in the kidnapping of the Causeway Bay Five, a group of Hong Kong booksellers snatched from Hong Kong and rendered to the Chinese mainland.

But five days on and multiple security sources have told The Weekend Australian the consensus view inside the security establishment is that while Wang’s claims are still being investigated, he is not the high-level operative-turned-defector he claimed to be. The Chinese Foreign Ministry was quick to denounce Wang, at the same time offering breezy assurances that China would never dream of meddling in the affairs of another state.

So think of this:

Australian Strategic Policy ­Institute executive director Peter Jennings said Wang’s confession had given Australian agencies an unprecedented insight into ­Beijing’s espionage activities. “We have, for the first time, direct and clear understandings from a ­Chinese intelligence operator himself about what China is doing in this country,” he said.

Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, who was involved in brokering Wang’s contact with ASIO and who appeared on the 60 Minutes broadcast, called him “a friend of democracy’’. “Anyone who’s willing to assist us in defending our sovereignty deserves our protection,” Hastie said.

The one possibility that can almost certainly be discounted is that Wang was sent by the Chinese themselves as a form of misdirection. That he was a bit player is no reason not to take him seriously. The question is whether he is a fantasist with no genuine knowledge or insight into anything of the Chinese spy apparatus. One way or another you will not know within a week. Let me finish with this from the case against:

“It is highly unusual for one junior intelligence operative (our assumption given his current 27 years of age) to play a big role in all these high-profile operations in different jurisdictions in a short period of time,’’ wrote Adam Ni, a researcher from Macquarie University and co-editor of China ­Neican, a newsletter aimed at ­“decoding” Chinese politics.

AND NOW THIS ALSO AT THE OZ: Security agencies wary of Andrew Hastie’s asylum call for ‘spy’. Let me just say that no one is going to do anything about our China policy no matter what is discovered based on this chap, one way or the other. But there is nothing wrong either with the story being given a public airing either. This is from the latest effort to downplay this issue.

Concerns have been raised at senior levels of Australia’s intelligence and security community about Liberal MP Andrew Hastie’s call for an alleged former Chinese spy to be granted asylum ahead of the formal assessing of his case.

Mr Hastie, who carries auth­ority as chairman of the federal parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, was quick to urge the Morrison government to give Wang Liqiang its “protection” as the first Chinese operative to blow his cover.

The West Australian Liberal, a former Special Air Service Regiment captain, is supported by China watchers who back his persistent criticism of Beijing for meddling in the sovereign affairs of other nations, and for its human rights record.

Top intelligence sources say an ASIO assessment could conclude Mr Wang is a former Beijing agent, as he claims, with intimate knowledge of covert Chinese operations in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. But they also told The Weekend Australian, while not discounting Mr Hastie’s views, that the 27-year-old’s behaviour was highly unusual.

It might just be worth mentioning that nothing of any significance has ever been revealed that showed Joe McCarthy was anything other than 99% correct in everything he had said. We have enemies and they really do want to do us harm.

Here’s the question

From Instapundit.

JOEL KOTKIN: Will Australia Become A Vassal State of China? “China presents the most profound challenge to liberal values since the end of the Cold War, a development that has caught our consistently lame political establishment by surprise. The leaders of both parties, and much of the corporate America, never saw it coming.”

Well, what’s the answer? Might just add that that the article says nothing specifically about Australia.

Here was the best comment at Instapundit.

So long as the American people keep voting for four dollars of government for every three dollars they are willing to be taxed, and China has the economic strength to fund large proportions of that debt, the United States, fundamentally, cannot oppose her.

Or to put it this way:

Selling coal
along with our soul,
Is the government’s role
on the whole.

Helping friends

I see from the front page of the SMH that “PM under pressure on Trump inquiry”. First para:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is being urged to provide “clear answers” about his offer to assist a divisive United States inquiry into the FBI after he confirmed a phone call from US President Donald Trump seeking support.

Well you know the usual suspects who are raising all this, the usual liars and fools on the left that is unable to cope with actual honest policy for the first time in our lives. They want to get back to the good old days of thievery and graft.

Yesterday I was reading about how the Labor Party had involved itself in the American election in 2016, and you will never guess which candidate they sought to help: Bernie Sanders. That is where the ALP really is, and it should scare the daylights out of anyone.

“The Australian Government will use its best endeavors”

Further to the earlier story on Australian providing assistance to PDT we now have this: Letter From Australian Official Emerges That Casts Doubt On Report From New York Times. Just by being from the New York Times is enough to cast doubt on the report. But this is the detail. It’s a letter from Joe Hockey. See how much reluctance there was in attempting to fulfil this request. It’s dated May 28, 2019.

Dear Attorney General,

I refer to President Trump’s announcement on 24 May that you will investigate the origins of the Federal Bureau of Investigations probe into Russian links to the 2016 US election.

I note that the President referred to Australia, the United Kingdom and the Ukraine as potential stakeholders. Moreover, I note that he has declassified intelligence material to support your investigation.

The Australian Government will use its best endeavors to support your efforts in this matter. While Australia’s former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, The Hon. Alexander Downer, is no longer employed by the government, we stand ready to provide you with all the relevant information to support your inquiries.

The Acting White House Chief of Staff, The Honorable Michael Mulvaney, has been copied on this letter.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon Joe Hockey

Follows from this:

In May, Trump said of Barr: “And I hope he looks at the U.K., and I hope he looks at Australia, and I hope he looks at Ukraine. I hope he looks at everything because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country.”

It’s not just good to know who your friends are, but also good that your friends know you really are their friends.

And there’s much more here. Insane, but par for the course on the left.

Australia in the international news

I have to say I have reached a saturation point on impeachment and girl-warrior attacking global warming. So a bit of change of pace. Donald Trump asked Morrison to help probe origins of Mueller inquiry.

Scott Morrison has confirmed Donald Trump called him to assist US Attorney-General Bill Barr’s investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation.

The investigation is part of the Trump administration’s attempts to discredit the Russia probe as politically motivated.

According to the New York Times, Mr Trump “pushed” Mr Morrison during a phone call in “recent weeks” for Australia’s help in the Justice Department’s investigation.

It said Mr Barr requested that the president ask Mr Morrison directly about the issue.

A Morrison government spokesman told The Australian on Tuesday: “The Australian government has always been ready to assist and co-operate with efforts that help shed further light on the matters under investigation.

“The PM confirmed this readiness once again in conversation with the president.”


And if I’m not mistaken, today is the 70th anniversary of Mao’s takeover of China. As part of the celebration, we have Our economic miracle delivers Aussie dream, says Chinese ambassador.

Chinese ambassador Cheng ­Jingye says Australia should ­remember it depends on China for its economic success, as he urged greater “mutual respect” between the countries and a reduction in “prejudices and suspicions”.

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of China’s communist revolution, Mr Cheng lauded his country’s “miracle” rise from a “poor backward country” to the world’s second largest economy.

That is, if you can believe their stats, and on per capita basis income is one-tenth that of Japan’s. Then there’s this: Julia Gillard, UK experts lash Australia for ‘regrettable’ foreign aid budget.

Ms Gillard, attending the conference as the chair of the Global Partnership of Education, said she never would have thought that as a Labor politician she would be at a Conservative party event but she fully supported the Tories’ committed aid spending of 0.7 per cent.

But the sharpest criticism of Australia’s policies on aid spending came from the Overseas Development Institute acting chief executive Simon Gill who unfavourably compared Australia to Ireland.

“Australia should give more,“ Mr Gill said.

These socialists love spending other people’s money.

“Friends, mates and allies”

Scott Morrison arrives around 23 minutes in. Advance Australia Fair at around 27 minutes, with a 21(?)-gun salute. The Star Spangled Banner at around 29:00. Inspection of the Guard and then meeting the crowd, which PDT does appear to enjoy. Bugle, fife and drum band next in colonial uniforms. PDT begins speech at 38:30. The warmest speech you may ever hear a foreign leader give about Australia and our relationship. It’s the real thing.

Scott Morrison follows from around 45:00 in. Also the real thing. “Friends, mates and allies” was said by the President but it could have been said by either.

The million dollar question no one could answer

Last week “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” was filmed in Melbourne and this was the Million-Dollar question:

Who is the Victorian Leader of the Opposition?

Well the contestant who had known everything else didn’t know so he asked the audience. And the audience didn’t know either.

So he phoned a friend. And his friend – a Professor of Politics at the University of Melbourne – also didn’t know?

So he chose the 50-50. And even then he got it wrong.

So I will tell you. From Wikipedia, since I didn’t know either.

The current Opposition Leader is Michael O’Brien of the Liberal Party. He was elected Liberal leader on 6 December 2018, replacing Matthew Guy who resigned after losing the 2018 Victorian state election.

Undoubtedly the only time you will see his name in print between now and the next election.

And why did this come to mind? Because of this article in The Oz today: Victoria’s dodgy power supply is likely to short-circuit everyone. Where, among other things, you may read:

In Victoria, however, too much bird slicing is barely enough.

To entice renewable investment, the Victorian government absorbs the risk, guaranteeing fixed-price contracts for up to 20 years. The size of the liability further governments will inherit has not been calculated.

When it comes to saving the planet, the Victorian RET is about as useful as gluing your hands to the tarmac. As an incentive for rent-seekers, on the other hand, it is working a treat.

The result is more windmills under construction than in the rest of the country put together. Another dozen or so projects are waiting for approval. It means that more than 1500 or so turbines could be fitfully turning in a few years, generating 6600MW on paper at least, larger than the state’s coal-generating capacity before the closure of Hazelwood.

Non-synchronous power of this kind is worse than useless in a crisis, however. It serves only to destabilise the grid.

Not to mention this from the Financial Review: Victoria’s energy plan is a ‘leap of faith’, whose first line:

Victoria’s aggressive wind and solar push will shut down coal power stations and could send electricity prices skyrocketing, EnergyAustralia has bluntly told the state Labor government.

 Just because the place is named Victoria is no reason to drive us back to living standards last seen in Victorian times.