Resignation of Australian “Chief Scientist – Dr Penny Sackett

I was curious when this news broke – I have always regarded the post as strange – an almost irrelevant little playpen – surely it would be better for the Govt to tap advice from experts in the academies or universities on a case by case basis – rather than as in this case relying numero uno on an Astronomer. So why not abolish the post now and save the few millions. I think the timing of the resignation hardly a week after the Govt appointed Prof Tim Flannery to the Climate Change Commission – speaks volumes. Interested to hear what readers think.
Apparently today Dr Sackett might – “…let rip at Senate hearing” – wow that will terrify the Gillard Gang.

8 thoughts on “Resignation of Australian “Chief Scientist – Dr Penny Sackett”

  1. What I find so telling is that had Penny Sackett wanted to spruik the Govts message on AGW climate change – surely nothing could be easier for her – the IPCC has done all the work – plus the CSIRO / BoM constantly turning out great stuff – she just has to present her speeches. Or is it the truth that Climategate and the 15 months since have been such a disaster for the IPCC storyline that somebody with Dr Sackett’s skills could not sell the damaged goods.

  2. In September 2009, Ms Sackett, in an interview on Sydney radio 2UE, said she knew of no peer-reviewed papers against the (falsified) CO2 AGW hypothesis. This was after the meeting between Senator Steve Fielding and then “Climate Change” Minister Senator Penny Wong. The meeting was attended by – on the Fielding side -Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth and on the Wong side – Ms Sackett and Prof Will Steffen.

    At that meeting, Fielding gave a copy of the NIPCC report “Climate Change reconsidered” to Ms Sackett as well as to Prof Stephen and Sen. Wong.

    The NIPCC report contained more than 1000 anti-AGW peer-reviewed papers. For Ms Sackett to say that sheknew of no anti papers means either she had read the NIPCC repot and was lying or that she had not even looked at it and was derelict in her duty as Chief Scientist for ALL Australians, not just a government lick-spit.

  3. Warwick, I think the post had some actual work of monitoring environmental issues in the Northern Territory, particularly with the Ranger Uranium mine. The Chief Scientist, beside the oversight of the environmental issues, was meant to give independent advice to government and government departments. The person who previously held the post was Dr Robin Batterham who was a chemical engineer and who understood costs, engineering best practice as well as a wide range of science and technology. Penny Sackett was a (female) political appointment and as a scientist involved in a narrow field of expertise was always out of her depth. She had no qualifications or experience to compare capital costs and operating costs or even to understand simple things such as safely handing waste or the more complex issues of mineral processing, drug manufacture, nuclear energy or even climate assessment.

  4. Thanks for reminding us of the Ranger function cementafriend – such an oddly restricted function to have such a grand title. Let an expert do it – no need to title them “Chief Scientist for Australia”. Take a quick look at the website, no sign of Ranger. I just searched Ranger mine at;
    Result; No results found.

  5. I hope Warwick will be able to do a post on geogological fault lines
    I know our NZ colleagues will need messages of support
    and here’s one place to send them:
    It’s a NZ website
    I’ve left the following message
    Richard and all my NZ friends whom I’ve met on this site – we in Australia are seeing the news of what happened in Christchurch
    the best of luck to you and yours and to everyone in Christchurch
    from Toowoomba and I’m sure all in Australia to whom NZ is a much cherished neighbour

    I know there will be many others who share my feelings and I encourage Warwick’s readers to leave a message of support there

    sorry Warwick I know this is o/t but I’m sure you will sympathise

  6. My thoughts on the “brand new post 4th Sept 2010 Akaroa seismic zone”.
    Seismicity in NZ was well understood in the 1960’s and Christchurch was never mentioned as being in a seismic zone – meaning in recorded history.
    So these post Sept 2010 quakes make for a brand new seismic region – which means we have a very short history of the activity there. Mid last September experts opined “GNS spokesman John Callan said there was now only a remote chance of a magnitude 6.0 aftershock.” We now know that is not exactly correct. Aftershocks have not died away as in the classic model. I think it could be just as valid to say that all the activity post the Darfield quake could be preliminary to a more serious future event. I thought it was interesting that todays main hit was only preceded by a single v small shock. The point of view that perhaps Christchurch should not be fully rebuilt where it is – on such a weak substrate – has gained a bit of currency today.

  7. If one can interpret correctly from TV footage, there is evidence of a colloidal process generally named thixotropy in the soils below parts of Christchurch. A combination of colloidal sized particles and water, when subject to shock or shear, can change physical property from the appearance of a moist but solid soil to a runny, liquid-like form. The first is able to support structures, the second it not. It is likely that thixotropy (initiated by a leaking water pipe, perhaps triggered by a truck hitting a pothole) was a cause of the Thredbo landslide in 1997.

    Thixotropy, rheopexy and similar colloidal processes caused by shock or shear are quite common in sedimentology and have been studied in great detail by John Elliston, Prof Sam Carey (dec’d) and Prof Tom Healy – search for Elliston in

    If the soil below Christchurch is a colloidal candidate, being mostly below about 500 nm diameter particles, then Christchurch would not be a good site for rebuilding. I do not know what size the particles are. It might be worth considering rebuilding on the gentler slopes of nearby Akaroa, where better foundation engineering might be possible. It is possible that the earthquake last year did not trigger much colloidal change, but the less intence Richter event the other day did. The Richter scale calculation does not include such processes, which some mainstream geologists refuse to recognise.

    From collidal science to politics, some insensitive dum-dum on Melbourne radio this morning was mouthing off that “Although we cannot attribute individual events like the Christchurch earthquake to climate change, the increased number of such extreme events over the years of greenhouse gas warming is a signal that we have to take urget action to avoid even more extreme events.”

    I hate this sneering, insidious, dishonest approach. If the epicentre for the said earthquake has been 50 km away, it would not have been included in the extreme events category. It was made an extreme event because a city has been built over the spot. Global Warming cannot be shown to be remotely connected to it. There is no stated mechanism of Global Warming that predicts an increase of earthquakes. It could equally prodeuce a decrease of earthquakes, logicially, if it affected frequency at all. Which is yet to be shown. (When in doubt, err on the side of catastrophe and blame mankind).

    I’m reminded of the Newcastle song by Bob Husdon, with its refrain “Don’t you ever let a chance go by, O Lord, Don’t you ever let a chance go by”

  8. For cementafriend. I was part of management of Ranger for many years, sometimes representing the operator at 6 monthly meetings with overseas shareholders.

    There were two research groups, one run by ERA as operator and the other by the Federal Government. Each had a lab. The Government one was headed by a succession of people titled “Chief Scientist for the Alligator Rivers Region” or the like. I can’t remember the names of past Chief Scientists because nothing of much consequence was ever produced. I’m interested in your comment (but it’s unclear to me). Please feel free to email me at sherro1 at optusnet dot com dot au

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