Olga Galacho, March 11, 2010

CAN you imagine my disappointment at realising that a federal parliamentarian I had hoped to nominate for the inaugural Button-Missen integrity awards failed to meet the criteria? LOL. I just can’t lie straight-faced.

The truth is, it will be interesting to learn which of the nominees submitted to the Accountability Round Table competition do meet the standards.

The standards themselves are not impossibly high. But perhaps they are highly impossible for many of today’s politicians to achieve.

The awards, to be launched today in Melbourne by former anti-corruption royal commissioner and judge, Tony Fitzgerald, QC, were named in honour of two former federal MPs, John Button and Alan Missen.

According to Accountability RT, the awards “recognise (Button and Missen’s) commitment to honest, transparent and accountable government”.

But back to why my would-be nominee — Science Minister Kim Carr — fails the litmus test.

In order to qualify for the awards, MPs need to have “demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the public interest in the performance of his or her role”.

And they should “protect people’s political and civil rights”.

This week, British scientist Clive Spash returned to Australia to remind us of the censure he was subjected to by his former employer, the CSIRO, and its governing minister, Senator Carr.

Prof Spash wrote a paper criticising emissions trading schemes as a means to reduce the production of greenhouse gases, in clear conflict with the Federal Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill.

His work, titled “The Brave New World of Carbon Trading”, was peer reviewed by other scientists and accepted for publication in the prestigious journal, New Political Economy.

But when CSIRO management discovered this, it sought to edit and modify the professor’s arguments and when it failed, it censored him and blocked publication.

Prof Spash told BNW this week he had received advice that he had a case to sue the CSIRO for defamation but he was “not interested in the money”.

“I don’t need the money and if I won, I would throw it back in their face,” he said. “What I do want to see is a public investigation regarding the banning and censorship of research.

“I want people to be held accountable . . . Australians should be told why public money is spent on research that is later suppressed.”

BNW has seen the correspondence from CSIRO which Prof Spash alleges is defamatory.

Whether it is or not, and whether Senator Carr failed to protect Prof Spash’s rights in repeating its contents at a Senate Estimates Committee meeting, is a moot point.

But one thing is clear, aspersions have been cast on the work of a world-renowned scientist in what is becoming an all too common sport among those who cannot understand logic.

Sorry Senator Carr, no award for you (Herald Sun)