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Manufacturing reality in the fourth industrial revolution

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 24 March 2023

The first three industrial revolutions, even the digital one, were mostly concerned with the process of transforming physical resources into things.

The fourth industrial revolution looks to be unshackling itself from the physical world altogether. Not only is there a growth in “bullshit” jobs, but there is a whole industry laundering bullshit from the crap that it is into “actionable” evidence.

Leading innovators in this field in Australia are the Australia Institute. Founded by Clive Hamilton it was originally modestly wrong, and tried conscientiously to argue factually for issues of concern to the left.


Under the leadership of Richard Denniss it has untethered itself from reality and ethics, and now shamelessly manufactures facts out of manure and thin air to justify the fantasies of left-wing policy makers.

Every year the institute puts out a media release claiming that the fossil fuel industries in Australia are subsidised to the tune of $X billion. Last year the figure was $11.6 Bn (the year before it was $10.3, but the figure varies, depending on what they invent).

This is cobbled together principally by misrepresenting the diesel rebate as a “subsidy”, and one which is apportioned entirely to the fossil fuel industry.

Fuel excise is meant to pay for road usage, and businesses which buy diesel for offroad use are not required to pay it. However, it is too difficult to differentiate between users at the pump, so the Commonwealth Government rebates the excise to the off-road users after sale.

That this is not a subsidy would be pretty clear if the government removed the excise and replaced it with a per kilometre usage charge instead.

And only a proportion of it goes to fossil fuel companies anyway, as the AI shows in its own documents.


The diesel rebate represented $8.072 Bn in the 2021/23 budget. The balance of $3.5 Bn approx. claimed by the Institute was made up of a series of howlers, including state-owned, and profitable, power stations, railways and ports.

They even included a federal government investment of $200 M in the Kurri Kurri gas-fired power station which it is being forced to build to provide firming for the flood of “renewables” being jammed into the system.

Once the BS has been turned into a product various retailers, like near-Teal independent Zali Steggall, “purchase” from the wholesaler and further refine it into memes on their Twitter feed claiming that “$22,000 every single minute” goes to “prop up the fossil fuel industry”.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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