Growing up you believe the world is meant to be the way it is. The older I get the more I realise that this is not the case. The world is full of injustices and atrocities that governments and the voice of faith expect us to accept, though with each passing year they grow fewer and fewer, at least one would hope. I have created this blog as a space for me to rant about all things science, politics, philosophy and religion, before it’s too late and the vessel of new atheism propelled by a growing surge in secularism solves all of the world’s problems for good.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Latest victim in the 'war on drugs', synthetic cannabis

I have so much to say on this topic I don’t even know where to start and my head’s about to explode!

The chemical JWH-018 is sprayed onto plant
matter to then be able to be smoked
So the latest target on the so-called ‘war on drugs’ has hit the news headlines: synthetic cannabis, more commonly known and marketed as Kronic, Spice or K2. As it stands very little is known about the effects and side-effects of synthetic chemical known as JWH-018, and therefore the Government’s first reaction is unequivocally… …*drum roll please*… "BAN IT"!

A bit of background...

The substance, JWH-018, has been on the market here in Australia for around 4 years, and has subsequently been banned by Western Australia, South Australia and now New South Whales, with the rest soon to follow no doubt. It appears that the drug first hit the radar in Australia when miners were using it while on the job over in WA. Random drug tests found that an average of 10% of miners tested positive for it, with some sites having a hit rate as high as 30%. 

It’s a synthetic drug with psychoactive (mind altering) properties, apparently reported to be similar to cannabis, but more intense. It was designed by organic chemist John W. Huffman from Clemson University to mimic the properties of THC for alleviating pain.

In an interview with Michael Edwards, a JWH-018 proponent Ray Thorpe, and director of Happy High Herb chain, said that;
"It is a chemical. It is a synthetic product. However it does copy nature so in a way it's nature identical, not a manmade sort of substance. It is a copy of a natural substance in the way it works in the brain."
However, it might be noted that Ray Thorpe refuses to distribute the synthetic cannabis product 'Kronic' as it supposedly has 10 times the 'safe' dose of JWH-018. He likens a low dose of JWH-018 to a light beer, with Kronic being more like "homemade brew with 50 per cent alcohol."

However, leading expert on drug addiction Dr Andrew Byrne contested;
"We really need to know; is it an organic chemical? Has it been around for years like cannabis or is it something new that therefore may have new and unknown dangers? Has it been around for years like cannabis or is it something new that therefore may have new and unknown dangers?" 
I'm glad too that Dr Byrne isn't sure banning it will really help at all, saying;
"Well it immediately draws attention to it of course and puts it on the forbidden list and so even people who wouldn't normally have been interested in it or, like you and me would never have heard of it, suddenly know about it. 

And perhaps you think this could be a form of the drug that's safe or this could be a form of the drug that's better or stronger or cheaper. And so it immediately travels around town like mad."
OK, so I'm sure a few of you will be asking yourselves why I'm opposed to Government legislation criminalizing this drug? I might just add that I've never used this drug, nor plan to, however I think that all drugs should be legalised and regulated. Note the word 'regulated'. This by no means suggests that drugs should be handed out in front of primary schools or even shelved at supermarkets. It means that I want the Government to step up to the plate and take some control of and responsibility for drugs and their use in our society. 

The first knee-jerk reaction is always ‘BAN IT’! And I for one am over this na├»ve and irresponsible approach when it comes to drug legislation.

The whole “We don’t know enough about the drug, therefore the Government needs to ban it" approach is a joke. It's the most ignorant, ironic and hypocritical rationale used when it comes to drug legislation. What sort of confusing message are we sending to children and adults alike? We know the dangers of tobacco and alcohol, killing many millions of people world wide every year, yet they remain legal. However, drugs that have unknown effects are banned outright? Why? Just in case they’re as dangerous as the ones that are legal? WHERE’S THE LOGIC?!

You don't send someone to prison because you don't know enough and because he might possibly be a bad guy. Last time I checked the legal system revolved around an 'innocent until proven guilty' canon. Why isn't this in place with things such as drugs? Since when did not knowing enough about someone or something mean you had enough information to decide on guilt or potential for harm? Yes, we don't know enough about JWH-018, but banning it isn't going to help us learn more about it. 

The US have made it a schedule 1 drug and we're following suit. This makes researching the substance incredibly difficult, and thus scientists are less likely to bother. Even if they do jump through all the hoops to research it, they have to prove it has medical value among other things for it to even be dropped to a lower schedule, let alone re-legalised if it is so deserving. Cannabis is a perfect example, it has unquantifiable uses in the medical realm alone, yet it remains illegal in almost all countries around the world. Scientific literature backs this up 10 fold, google scholar it for yourselves if you don't believe me. Find a single death, find anything more than "may be related to the induction of psychosis in those who are pre-disposed to the disease, and whom use it excessively for a long period of time". However, we can directly attribute millions upon millions of deaths globally to 'good' licit drugs such as alcohol and tobacco as stated above.

So JWH-018 will be thrown onto the same playing field as cocaine, heroin and cannabis. It’ll be placed high up on an imaginary shelf far from the legitimacy of real science to reach and nut out what’s really going on beneath the surface. Perhaps ‘not knowing enough’ should lead one towards wanting to know more before making a decision when it comes to ANYTHING in question. How can we learn anything if our first reaction is to ban something…?

Prohibition and the fallacious war on drugs are a total sham and failure that has no one’s best interests at heart. They have never worked in the slightest. Rates of use, addiction and death haven’t changed when it comes to drugs such as cocaine or heroin, remaining the same during prohibition as they were before it was invoked.

As soon as you prohibit a drug, demand doesn’t change, we saw that with alcohol in the early 1900s and cannabis too. Almost immediately following prohibition the drug is pushed underground into the black market and into the hands of organized criminals. The quantity produced rises and the quality greatly falls, making it less safe to use. On top of that, children are more at risk as drug dealers don’t tend to ask for ID, whether your 5 or 50 years old, if you have the money you’ll get the drugs. Crimes, including theft and murder also increase as a result. So if anything prohibition makes drugs more prevalent and removes all control and responsibility of it from the Government and the public. How is that a desirable scenario? People clearly just don’t want to be held responsible for their own actions or those of others. At the end of the day you can't argue with demand. If people want to use a product, they’re going to find a way to get it. Denying this and declaring a war on drugs has proved to do nothing more than generate a super-massive black hole for tax payers’ dollars.

In sum, people will always want to use drugs. We need to accept that and stop this futile fight for a drug-free world, it's not going to happen. Therefore it’s time our Governments and the public took some responsibility for themselves instead of trying to wash their hands of it. Clearly a sizeable proportion of those being governed wish to use this product or I wouldn't be ranting on this blog about it. Prohibiting will do next to nothing to quash demand for JWH-018, it will increase it if anything. So maybe we should be more concerned with studying it and discover all possible dangers and the benefits. Let’s get the facts for facts’ sake! So then those people who wish to use this drug responsibly can do so legally and in a much more safer way. While also being equipped with better knowledge of its effects, and all the positives and negatives associated with the substance and its use. It's time to take back control.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Atheists, mark 'no religion' in upcoming census!

With the upcoming census on August the 8th of this year, it's incredibly important for atheists to mark 'no religion' on the form. Here's why!

The Atheist Foundation of Australia today erected billboards in nearly all Australian capital cities highlighting the ‘Mark No religion’ on the Census Campaign. 

The President of the AFA, David Nicholls, said he hoped the signs
would help the public at large to think about how they fill out the
Australian Census this coming August on the question concerning
religious affiliation.

“The question on religion asking ‘What is the person’s
religion?’ is a leading one,” he said, “and it could sway people
to mark their religion of baptism or early youth and not their present
stance, which may be devoid of any faith.

“This can cause a distortion of Census statistics whereby religious
people appear to be more numerous in society than they really are.
Public policy can and does reflect these figures, which
disenfranchises many groups in the community and unfairly favours
religion,” said Nicholls.

Only 7% of Australians regularly attend a church yet laws on
voluntary euthanasia, equality for lesbians and gays, abortion,
chaplaincy, effective sex education, religious indoctrination in state
schools, stem cell research and other areas are continually interfered
with by some politicians following Christian dogma rather than
empirical evidence.

People who are more interested in the contents of their pockets might
like to reflect on the untaxed $30 billion annually that goes to
religion. Only a small unaccounted for percentage is used for charity.
Every Australian is financially propping up religion to a massive

“It is very important that people be honest with their answer to
the question on religion in the Census,” said Nicholls, adding,
“No one has ever gone to hell for being honest.”

Signs appear at the following locations.

75 Parramatta Rd, Annandale
Pennant Hills Rd, West Pennant.
Gladesville, Victoria Road, NSW

Breakfast Creek Rd, Newstead
1015 Fairfield Rd, Yeerongpilly 

509 Charles Street, North Perth

Western Hwy (Ballarat Rd), Ardeer
2 North Rd (Overpass), Huntingdale

280 – 290 Hindley St, Adelaide

Rant about the school chaplaincy program

Education Minister Peter Garrett (also former front man for Midnight Oil, when I used to like him) appeared on ABC's 7:30 last night about the school chaplaincy program. He stated that the Federal Government intends on expanding the school chaplaincy program even though fresh allegations of chaplains misbehaving has come to surface of late.

Chaplains have been exposed as to having offered formal counseling to students, though they are not adequately qualified to do so, while others are accused of acting inappropriately with students.
"They're obviously not there for discipline, they're not there for teaching, they're not there for religious instruction nor counseling..." says Garrett. (see video below)

Then what on earth are they there for?! And more importantly, why is it only chaplains are being pursued for this role they're playing at schools? Surely if they're not there for discipline, teaching, religions instruction or counseling, then this gap could be filled by almost anyone else, yet the Government are funding a religious group solely to carry out non-religious jobs... If their religion has nothing to do with it, nor their religious expertise, why are they the only adequate candidates for this seemingly easy-to-fill, credentials-less job?

These questions resound all the more loudly in light of the constant stories coming to air about proselytization of students and chaplains pushing their religion in schools, which wouldn't occur to the same degree, if at all, if the prerequisite of Christianity and involvement with Scripture Union QLD wasn't there.

I heard Senator Lyn Allison speak on the issues of the school chaplaincy program earlier this year at Melbourne University where she told of a few horror stories where chaplains had well overstepped the mark. From proselytizing in the playground all the way to taking students home with them for a weekend session of bible bashing in response to suicidal thoughts of which the student had informed the chaplain. Again, this wouldn't occur with non-religious, non-Scripture Union Qld affiliated people if they were offered this job. Furthermore, if we used the $222 million of tax payers money to fund professional counsellors, these sorts of issues could be addressed at the schools themselves, where currently chaplains have no counseling powers or use at all. Or better yet, put the funding into teaching jobs so that schools have access to more teachers who could undoubtedly fill this role more adequately than a chaplain.

Chaplains to me just seem to be a useless middle man, paid to be there for nothing more than a teacher's aid, ie. an extra pair of hands, and if they're informed of a student's issues and counseling needs they can do little more than pass that information on to a professional counselor to deal with, assuming they respect the guidelines of their position.

Teachers are currently untrained in the areas of counseling and thus by law can't counsel children and have to pass them onto professional counselors, much the same as the chaplains. Maybe this says something about tertiary education programs for teaching. Perhaps another area this $222 million could address, if it weren't wasted on chaplains, could be tertiary education programs for teaching and adding a counseling component that could give future teachers the appropriate qualifications to be able to counsel children. Two birds, one pay check.

I saw Tim Mander, CEO of Scripture Union Qld on ABC news last night saying something along the lines of... "Chaplains are there for the religious needs of the children". If that's the case it must be a pretty thin line between religious needs and proselytizing. So why even set up this program... We know why the chaplains are there, Christianity is losing its grip in today's world and in a last ditch effort to fight the separation of church and state it's attempting to be the guardian of our children. Clearly, just out of the goodness of their hearts. I'm sure it has nothing to do with their religion and wanting to convert and 'save' all of the godless children in our schools. Yet we open ourselves up to this danger, setting the wolves among the sheep and think that the predators' instincts will never kick in? And if they do, clearly it must just be an isolated instance, we can deal with it and move on... Rubbish... If we replace the chaplains with non-religious-affiliated average-Joes at the very least we've saved ourselves some of the issues that have already arisen in the short history of this ridiculous, poor attempt at a Christian vote gathering, program. It's about time the Labour Party started implementing useful programs the country needs, instead of focusing so hard on pandering to the religious right for support.

I can remember being in primary school when I was in grade 5 and 6 where we had high school students of about 16-17 yrs old come in each week and help out with the goings-on in the class. This was free, and I'm guessing part of the high school students curriculum, so both parties benefited. Why can't we install something similar to this if nothing else. It would cost tax payers nothing, and we're hardly lacking high school students located in close proximity to primary schools.

Either way, I want to see some evidence that the school chaplaincy program is having some positive effect on the schools with which it's involved. Show me some peer reviewed studies showing  that having a chaplain has significantly aided the teacher, the students and the school.

It's incredibly important we speak up against this chaplaincy program now and make ourselves heard considering the Government is about to expand the program by introducing a further 1000 new school chaplains. This is just the latest foothold in religion's war against secularism in Australia and it needs to be addressed ASAP.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

House sized asteroid passes close by Earth tonight!

A house sized asteroid named 2011 MD that was only found a few days ago on June 22 by a pair of robotic telescopes named LINEAR in New Mexico. These telescopes scan the skies in order to discover asteroids heading towards Earth, and are obviously doing their job as this asteroid will swing past tonight, July 27th, though you'll need a telescope to see it unfortunately.

The asteroid posses effectively no threat to the planet itself or its earthlings as it's estimated to only be between 9-45m wide. It will be passing by incredibly closely at ~12000kms away, which is about 23 times closer to the Earth than the Moon is situated. However, it's reportedly traveling incredibly slow relative to Earth, approaching us at only about 1m/s. So even if it were on a direct impact with Earth it would more than likely break apart in the the atmosphere in a brilliantly massive fire ball with only a few small meteorites hitting the planet's surface.

Trajectory of 2011MD

For further information about the asteroid and its path hit up JPL's Solar System Dynamics website.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Lesbian Anglican priest loses faith

I'm incredibly agitated at the recent news that an lesbian Anglican priest is quitting after years of bullying and persecution by church goers and its religious leaders.

Anglican priest Ali Wurm
It always astounds me how judging, condemning and hating the religious can be when it comes to homosexuality. Especially considering the extent to which Christianity claims its, as well as by its followers, to be such an all loving and accepting group.

I've been told many times by certain Christians that they love their enemies as much as they love their friends as we are "all made in the image of God", according to the Bible. Clearly though, this doesn't trickle down through religious leaders and the literature to most so professed "Christians", who in many instances tend to be a great deal more malicious, conniving and judgmental than the majority of non-theists. Which book have they been reading? Or is it just that the Bible is and always has been a multitude of books and messages all wrapped into one. He's an all knowing God, but boy is he and his message so incredibly vague...

How long are such Christians going to try and have their cake and eat it too? If you want to try and upload your "superior" moral position over everyone else, at least try and practice what you preach.

I can't count the amount of times I, as an Atheist, have spoken, argued, debated with Christians about their beliefs and life choices who then hit you with a line similar to; "well at the end of the day it's my choice and I'll live by it, so why do you care?" Good question... So how come so many Christians give homosexuals and pro-homosexuality/equality lobbyists such a hard wrap? Isn't it their choice, that they have to live by, so why do you care? FOCUS ON YOURSELVES!

It should be no surprise how little these Christians really care about equality when clearly they expect a great deal from everyone else than they do themselves. Hmmm...

First appearance on the Imaginary Friends Show podcast!

In relation to the recent blog post I wrote called "Mini ice ages and acid oceans" I spoke with host Jake Farr-Wharton in a new segment named "The Miracles of Modern Day Science".

Visit to have a listen to this great podcast, and to hear me having a yarn go to the latest episode, Episode 51 - Seriously, coral looks better bleached... and skip to ~26 minutes. Or you could just listen to the whole thing for a great deal of secular/atheist satire and info!

Hopefully I'll be appearing on it each week speaking about the latest scientific findings, research and controversies in the news! If you've any suggestions feel free to hit me with them.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Onward March! New York is next state to legalise gay-marriage!

New York is now the sixth US state, and the most populated, to have legalised gay-marriage after Governor Andrew Cuomo's bill was approved by the senate! ONE HUGE STEP FORWARD! May many more follow, and hopefully here too in Australia as this is a serious issue with regards to basic human rights that we need to recognize and address now.

Good job Governor Cuomo!

The Richat Structure

This amazing piece of geology is found in Oudane, in the Sahara desert of Mauritania. It's about 50km in diameter and up to 450m above sea level. According to NASA...
Initially interpreted as a meteorite impact structure because of its high degree of circularity, it is now thought to be a symmetrical uplift (circular anticline or dome) that has been laid bare by erosionPaleozoicquartzites form the resistant beds outlining the structure. The lack of shock metamorphism at the site further backs the latter claim.

To see this last image really big go to -

Mini ice ages and acid oceans

 "Sports on a Frozen River" by Aert van der Neer shows a typical scene. Depicted during the mini ice age (or Maunder Minimum) between 1645-1715
US solar physicists from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and US Air Force Research Laboratory recently announced that the Earth may enter into a mini ice age within the next few decades. Scientists examined three different analyses of the Sun's recent behaviour, which all indicated that a period of unusually low solar activity, ie. 'Sun hibernation', may be just around the corner.

Solar activity is usually occurs following eleven year cycles of solar maximum where the solar activity is at its highest, to solar minimum where it is at its lowest. Dark spots on the Sun's surface known as sunspots are the result of intense magnetic activity and are therefore used as an indicator of solar activity. More sunspots = high levels magnetic activity, less/no sunspots = low levels of magnetic activity.

According to scientists we should have come out of our last solar minimum two years ago in 2009 when the eleven year cycle had come to completion. However, since then solar activity has continued to decrease (see picture below).

Decreasing trend in solar activity

The NSO wonder if this may be the next Maunder Minimum or Little Ice Age, which was a 70 year period of close to no solar activity between 1645-1715, where effectively no sun spots were recorded. During this period many European rivers, that were usually ice-free all year round, were reported to have periodically frozen over and even support ice skaters and army marches. Interestingly enough overall the Earth's average temperature had decreased by 0.4C, which just goes to show how intense small changes in the climate can be.

Red = Maunder Minimum / Little Ice Age caused by prolonged solar minimum, Blue = Usual cycle of solar maximum & solar minimum

So what does all this mean in terms of climate change and our day to day lives? Well best case scenario in my opinion is that the solar minimum ends soon and we don't go into another Little Ice Age, in which case very little or no change would occur. Worst case scenario is that we do go into a Little Ice Age and a number of negative things occur to us, and more importantly the environment.

Firstly, our Earth's average temperature has reportedly increased by about 0.4C-0.5C since the beginning of the industrial revolution. In that time a great deal of land has been gained for agricultural use, where it was once in too cold a climate to grow the right crops, it has warmed to today where they can be grown. These crops feed a great deal of the world's population. So if temperatures drop to pre-industrial revolution levels, as they would within two or three decades if the solar minimum persists, we could lose this agricultural space and face some serious problems economically.

Secondly, solar minimums represent a reduction in magnetic field strength at the Sun's surface. Unfortunately for us, a drop in the Sun's magnetic field correlates with a drop in ultra violet light (UV) emission from the Sun. Our ozone is created when UV radiation hits oxygen molecules in the atmosphere. So less UV radiation = thinner ozone layer, which funnily enough allows a higher proportion of UV light through the atmosphere than when at normal levels from the sun. Higher exposure to UV radiation is bad bad bad for all living organisms including us (it destroys DNA, our very building blocks).

Thirdly, if we see a sudden decrease in the average temperatures of the Earth, then the average sea surface temperatures will also decrease. This normally wouldn't be a big deal, but the problem is that we currently have a great deal more CO2 in the atmosphere than is naturally occurring (today's 390ppm compared to 280ppm pre-industrial revolution). Colder water is able to absorb a greater amount of CO2 than warmer water can, so if temperatures suddenly drop we will see the oceans absorb even more CO2 out of the atmosphere and become even more acidic than it currently is. At the current rate the ocean is acidifying it is predicted that we are facing another mass extinction, so if you add an untimely Little Ice Age into the mix, this will occur even sooner. We simply can't afford to lose the amount of sea life that is currently facing extinction...

No time for political agendas...!
What I worry about most of all is that politicians are going to misinterpret and misuse the information scientists have gathered and released about the Earth possibly facing another Little Ice Age. They will undoubtedly use it to suggest we are saved from climate change and global warming, but things couldn't be more further from the truth. A cooler Earth by no means suggests a healthier one. If the temperatures do drop, we may be lulled into a false sense of security as storms would be expected to become less severe and less frequent. However, better weather in the short term will do nothing to address our issues with the anthropogenic greenhouse gases that will still be accumulating in the atmosphere. It will just be waiting to hit us even harder after this small respite that may result from the prolonged solar minimum.

It's incredibly important that we understand what is going on and do what we can to address CO2 emissions and thus prevent further damage to the Earth and its ecosystems, if for no other reason than for our own sake. Politicians and the average Joe would love to believe that we can survive just fine here on Earth without healthy forests and habitats, oceans or atmosphere, but that is nonsense. The health of our biosphere, oceans and atmosphere are all intrinsically linked and if a single one is allowed to fall into degradation the others soon follow as we have seen, and the result has a direct effect on us and every other living thing on this planet.

Anyway, I've a shitload more to say on the matter and I could go further into my concluding hippy rant but that can wait for another post on another day.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

High caffeine use linked to symptoms of schizophrenia

A recent study carried out by La Trobe University researcher Simon Crowe and his team found that... 
"... high caffeine use, combined with stress, can cause people to exhibit psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions." - article
The study was carried out on 92 undergraduate students who played a song called White Christmas by Bing Crosby and then played static white noise for a similar length of time. Students were then asked to press a button if they heard White Christmas playing while listening to the white noise (the song was not played during this time).

The Team found that individuals who were highly stressed and who were also prone to high usage of caffeine were three times more likely to hear the song playing during the white noise. Mr Crowe stated that what they found...
"... was that people who are highly stressed and who are prone to high-level caffeine use are more likely to report these sorts of phenomena - hearing things that aren't necessarily there as a result of the interaction of those two effects,".
The interesting thing for me is that this study showed that stressed people who had not been diagnosed with schizophrenia were able to show the symptoms of the disease due to the use of caffeine. Mr Crowe also stated that...
"People who have a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia do not always show the disease, but it can be triggered by a number of things, including highly stressful situations." 
"What caffeine does is increase the responsiveness of the system, which is made yet more powerful by [the presence of stress]," 
Other drugs get such a bad wrap with regards to inducing schizophrenia in those who are predisposed, such as cannabis, if used heavily for a prolonged period I might add. So it's ironic that a drug as seemingly common and 'harmless' as caffeine can have effectively the same effects on an individual who has no predisposition for schizophrenia and without prolonged usage. The study seems to suggest that if you're stressed and expose yourself to a high level of caffeine you can induce psychotic symptoms in yourself then and there.

Though the dangers of caffeine are not unknown the drug is suggested to be linked to miscarriages, and death from things such as ulcers, stress and overdose leading to heart attacks. It's calculated that between 1000-10 000 deaths per year in the USA are attributable to caffeine.

But what are we going to do? Take it off the shelves...? HA! Though I wouldn't put it past the conservative politicians and public to rally behind such a proposal... after all we need to be saved from the dangers of freedom! Since when did long life at any cost become the most important goal? Drugs, sex, rock and roll, and just plain good old fun in a short life would kick the crap out of 100 years of biscuits, newspapers and knitting...

Imaginary Friend Show audition

So I spotted a status update on FB the other day by a fellow atheist/secularist looking for people with science degrees who were interested in taking part in his podcast The Imaginary Friends Show. So I taped a short clip of myself speaking about evolution and thought I'd share it with y'all!

Just click this link and hit play to have a listen if you so desire.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Plebiscite put forward by Liberal pleb...

According to a 'pleb' is "one who's inferior intelligence results in them making a complete titface out of themselves in public", which I would say describes leader of the Australian Liberal Party, Tony Abbott rather well after his most recent attention seeking idiocy. 

He's latest anti-carbon tax efforts have been towards introducing a plebiscite (or referendum), whereby the public vote to accept or reject a specific proposal, in this case the introduction of the ETS (emissions trading scheme) currently proposed by the Labor party. If implemented it would cost tax payers $70-80 million dollars to go ahead with the plebiscite. Perhaps worth the cost if the result were to be honoured by the Liberal Party and Tony Abbott himself. However, during a radio interview Mr Abbott reinforced everyone's suspicions that this was just another one of his stunts when he admitted that even if the proposed plebiscite endorsed the carbon tax, he'd still go to an election pledging to repeal it

What an idiot... So he'd spend millions of tax payer dollars in order to prove his point, that the ETS isn't what the public want (assuming they rejected it). However, if the public accepted the proposal he would still fight to repeal it at the next election? Who are you representing as the leader of a political party Mr Abbott, the people and what they want or just your own self interests? Isn't this a democracy, yet you won't honour the choice of the majority if it's against what you want? 

And on a side note, considering the amount of whining Mr Abbott and fellow Liberal Party members express on the Labor Party's excessive spending and wasting of tax payers money it seems stupendously ironic that Mr Abbott proposes to spending many millions of tax payers dollars on a plebiscite he's admitted he won't even honour should it prove in opposition to his preference.

It all seems pretty bewildering in light of this interview by Sky News with Mr Abbott only two years ago...

The Liberal Party would almost certainly gain my vote, and undoubtedly many others', over the Labor Party (in light of their current efforts and duplicitous actions, within their party and to the public), if they dropped this moron who has no integrity or honour, and is fighting for his own anti-Labour agenda and not that of the people. Oh, and maybe if the LP dropped their deeply entrenched Christian views too, but that's another rant for another day.

Thankfully, it appears this political stunt has been quashed by senator Steve Fielding surprisingly enough. He's even more a nuttjob Christian politician than Mr. Abbott, but at least someone in the Liberal Party gave their leader a wake up call.
Calling the plebiscite a "glorified opinion poll", Senator Fielding said: "What we've got here is a political stunt which will waste taxpayers' money and achieve nothing.
"Last week the Coalition argued that the Government shouldn't be allowed to spend taxpayers' money on spruiking a carbon tax because it didn't yet exist, so how can we have a plebiscite on a policy that hasn't even been finalised?"  
Even if the motion had passed in the senate however, it's unlike it would've gotten to the House of Representatives as Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott had refused to back it. Though I'm sure Mr. Abbott knew it was more than a long shot all along, rather just wanting more media attention and further conflict on the matter...