ANU: ABC's extraordinary back-down on 'death threats' story

FOI request

UPDATE: Bishop Hill reports here.

Just when you think things cannot get any more bizarre, the ABC quietly updates its latest story on the ANU death threats with the following extraordinary statement:

UPDATE (May 21): The release of these emails under Freedom of Information followed reports last year (see related stories above) that ANU scientists had received death threats. Climate change sceptics have claimed that the released emails contradict suggestions that any death threats were received, but a spokesperson for the ANU says the university is standing by its claims that death threats were received. Questions have also been raised about whether one of the released emails did, in fact, constitute a threat to use a gun, with a person involved in the kangaroo culling program claiming the comments were made by him, and were in no way intended as a threat.

So is the ABC seriously suggesting that Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim himself is a “climate change sceptic”? Here’s what he said in the FoI decision:

“10. Having inspected the documents, I have determined that 10 of the documents, in the form of emails, do not contain threats to kill or threats of harm. These documents contain abuse in the sense that they contain insulting and offensive language.”

And the 11th, the ABC concedes, was nothing but an innocent discussion about kangaroo culling. The question remains, however: if death threats were received by ANU at any time, why were they not reported to the police? More and more questions, fewer and fewer answers.

My follow-up FoI request (already submitted to ANU) will definitively answer all of these questions – although no doubt they will refuse to release them, and it will require another appeal to the Information Commissioner.

See? According to the ABC, like any challenge to the consensus, it’s all an evil plot by the sceptics! Hilarious!

Media Watch will be a hoot.


  1. “Climate change sceptics have claimed that the released emails contradict suggestions that any death threats were received”

    That is correct, however as you say, Pilgrim confirmed the claim. Leaving out that part is more spin than the LHC.

    “..spokesperson for the ANU says the university is standing by its claims that death threats were received.”

    Which spokesperson? If true, this makes their position much worse.

  2. People power says:

    Brilliant article. The ABC bias makes me physically sick and that is our taxes

  3. Simon, please don’t give up your tremendous effort in getting the facts to the fore. The ABC of my youth would never have thought of, let alone condoned, their bullsh!t of today.

    (P.S. I’ve been meaning to tell you for some time – only 12 hour clocks need to know which part of the day they are operating in)

    • Russell says:

      As a teenager in the early sixties, I used to milk cows and listen to Peter Evans on ABC breakfast radio before I went to school. Over a period of 3 to 4 years there was a noticeable shift to the left in the ABC.

  4. Baldrick says:

    The ALPBC just can’t bring itself to say no death threats ever existed and the whole thing was a beat-up from the beginning.
    Obviously a little white-wash goes a long way at the ALPBC!

  5. Ross Stacey says:

    Well, I have just watched Media Watch and must say I think Holmes did a good job of critisizing ABC, Canberra times and the Australian

  6. John Coochey says:

    Go get em Andrew you have saved me the trouble. The recent ABC Broadcast was disgraceful I have already given Media Watch the truth about the falsification about the so called death threats but they refuse to publish it. I have also furnished full documentation. What on earth do they think they are?

  7. I believe media watch might have just responded to this.

  8. michael says:

    Hope you watched media watch tonight. What you are reporting is only half the truth, which I suspect you know.

    [REPLY – Actually, I’m agnostic on the whole issue – if there are threats, that is despicable, but let’s see them, and let’s have them properly investigated by the police for the serious crime that they are. Everything shown on MW, lots of juicy bad language and F and C words, is NOT a death threat]

  9. John Coochey says:

    I really feel I have to give the full story even if Media Watch refuses to run it

    I am assuming that by now your have read the eleven emails concerning the “Death threats”. The one involving threats of guns seems to have been subject to Chinese Whispers since then particularly in Readfearn’s column, with each reiteration making it more exaggerated. This gets more amusing by the hour but basically centers around a “Deliberation” which was held at the ANU about one and a half years ago. Such events are supposed to involve taking a cross section of a community, polling their views and then exposing them to both sides of an argument and then re polling them. The most well known are probably Issues Deliberation Australia and the integrity of such events is open to question. I attended what was supposed to be a three day event at the ANU at which there was not even an attempt at even presentation of views with only warmist views put forward. A further aggravation was that it was not allowed to ask questions from the floor but had to “collegiate” in groups and select one question from the group, the length of time involved meant each member could have asked at least one question directly and possibly supplementaries in the same time. It also resulted in only the dumbest questions getting up, a sort of multiple Delphi technique.
    Hower at the first session just before lunch I managed to get one in under the radar because the speakers did not have time to wait around for the group think. I simply asked whether the speakers one of whom was Steffen, could confirm or deny a claim made in the Canberra Times letters a few days previously that temperatures in the Canberra region had not increased for some decades. The Deliberation was supposed to be about climate adaptation in the Canberra region. Neither speaker attempted to answer but one (not Steffen but I might be able to find his name from the records but it a little long ago) said there were signs of warming everywhere giving an alleged reduction in weight of parrots on the Eastern seaboard as an example (I am serious). I pointed out, clearly, that this did not answer the question.
    After the lunch break Steffen was on again but still did not answer the question.
    That night there was a dinner at which we were seated at tables for about eight, the significance will become clear later.
    A fellow skeptic had already said he would not be attending the following two days and I had pretty well decided the same. At the mediocre dinner I was recognized by Dr Maxine Cooper who asked to sit at an adjacent chair for one course, naturally I complied.
    We had come to know each other because of issues relating to shooters taking the accreditation test for the kangaroo culling season which occurs each winter in the ACT, We have also communicated about a paper allegedly about Kangaroo management by a consultant I pointed out flaws in the paper which led to its withdrawal and return of moneys paid. I am not sure if this was before or after the dinner in question.
    She asked me how I had performed and I answered that I had top gunned it with a perfect score, something to boast about because the test is challenging even to an accomplished marksman, I also showed her my new culling (nor firearms) licence. I made small talk with other people at least on our side of the table about the expertise necessary to obtain the licence to allay any concerns about animal welfare.

    This has now been portrayed as “showing a firearms licence and boasting about my ability as a sniper.”

    Now clearly the ANU knew my identity, address as would ACT Firearms licensing. If I had intended anyone any harm would I have advertised the fact knowing that there was a clear trail back to me? I think Steffen would have had greater cause for complaint if there had been someone at the dinner who had been an expert marksman who had kept it hidden.
    I note he also described this as “our first threat of violence” or words to that effect, the email is readily available. So obviously everything before that is irrelevant.


  1. […] The ABC quietly updates its “death threats” story, but still can’t bring itself to tell the full story of the framing of the sceptics. Share this:ShareDiggEmailRedditPrintStumbleUponTwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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