Dr Karl and the IGR

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Much admired, high profile scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki has withdrawn his support for the Abbott Government’s Intergenerational Report, describing it as flawed, despite his appearance in advertisements that promote the report. In particular, the “reduced focus” on climate change has led Dr Kruszelnicki to question the partisan approach of the report.

“The only reason I agreed to do it [promote the report] is because I was told that it would be independent, bipartisan and non-political. … if it turns out to have been fiddled with or subject to political interference from one side of politics I would deeply regret playing any part in it whatsoever” he said on ABC radio this morning.

Dr. Kruszelnicki also revealed that he had not read the report before agreeing to front an expensive advertising campaign that has been shown on TV, in social media and in print. The advertisements encourage Australians to join the conversation about the demands of an ageing population. Mr Hockey’s office will not release the cost of the taxpayer-funded advertising campaign, which it describes as an ‘information’ campaign.

Watch Dr Karl in the ‘Challenge of Change’ ad campaign you have funded.

Hear him speak on ABC radio.

Read a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Opinion: Another celeb endorsement gone wrong?

At one level I feel sorry for Dr Karl – and at another, I don’t. Too often high profile Australians are happy to pocket high fees from companies, brands – or indeed governments – wishing to ‘gild the lily’ on a questionable product, or add some credibility to a questionable proposition. Dr Karl has been caught out.

He is Australia’s favourite scientist who has lent his name to a particularly partisan report, only to discover that it seriously belittles the challenge of climate change. And to his credit, he has stood up and said that he made a mistake and regrets his role. But he has not asked for the campaign to be halted. And whilst he is quarrelling with the IGR’s lack of regard for the importance of climate change, he has basically endorsed the highly political economic conclusions asserted by the Treasurer, as opposed to a non-partisan Treasury.

As we reported when the IGR was released on 5 March, as well as taking the easy way out on climate change, the report simply refused to look holistically at the issue of retirement incomes, ignoring the massive misdirection of monies into overly generous superannuation contribution tax relief. It is not good enough for such an eminent scientist to take money to front advertisements endorsing a report he has not read. It merely reduces the credibility of his endorsement to equal that of a sportsperson promoting a new toothpaste.  

It doesn’t really matter if companies waste their marketing budgets on celebrity endorsements by people who often subsequently fall from grace. But it does matter that the Federal Government is using our taxes to pay a scientist to tell us its partisan report is a good document. And if this scientist now believes the report is flawed, the advertising campaign should be stopped and Dr. Kruszelnicki should think very seriously about refunding his fee.

What do you think? Has Dr. Karl made a mistake? And if so, should the ad campaign be stopped and Dr Karl made to refund his fee? How do you feel about your taxes being spent on such a dubious political promotion?

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Written by Kaye Fallick

162 Comments

Total Comments: 162
  1. 0
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    Well, he’s not as clever as he thought ,eh? Or we thought either

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      Not really btony. Dr Karl appears to have taken what he was told by this government on its merits. But as we see repeatedly this government is not to be trusted wnd just continues to lie, mislead and act in the interests of its owners: the rich.
      Karl is probably guilty of stupidity, not betrayal. That one lies fair and square with the current government.
      I for one wish that the same story did not repeadly play out. It is what it is.

    • 0
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      Dr. Karl puts a new spin on “Take the Money and Run”. A most unscientific examination of what he was getting himself into.

      He almost makes Tim Flannery look respectable in comparison.

    • 0
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      wally, he is not running anywhere. He just wants those lefty whingers off his back.

    • 0
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      Come off it, Dr Karl smart!

      He’s just a photographic memory with no analytical ability or understanding.

      Typical lefty, do anything for a buck

    • 0
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      Leave Dr Karl alone, nobody’s Perfect !! Except Franks Friends 🙂

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      Dr Karl is nothing but a quasi movie star … do anything to stay in front of media.

  2. 0
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    I doubt if most people believe that a sportsperson has any particular knowledge about toothpaste, muesli bars, breakfast cereals or anything else unconnected with sport that they are paid to promote, but in the case of a well-known and respected scientist one might have expected him to have some knowledge of what he was endorsing. Why else was he invited to endorse it? Or, cynically, is the IGR really no more significant than the brand of toothpaste we use? Disappointing.

  3. 0
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    When a person makes an endoresment (especially high profile) at least read and understand what you are endoresing.
    Mistake no, he took to it without full consideration and the consequences. We the ordinary people told to read, and understand what you are signing or agreeing to. (what this dosen’t apply to him) Raz’s Raz’s only. Sympathy,not. Credibility none, huge brain snap.
    Lack of judgement no excuse.Loss of creadability yes.

  4. 0
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    I think we’re heading towards communist government practice at the rate of light years. Paying off high profile members of our community, governments blatantly lying to its constituents to manipulate their thoughts and behaviours, propagating bad news into the community in order to mind control the masses. I’ve seen the ads and my first (naively trusting) instinct is to watch, but then I remember (very quickly) our new high tech propaganda methods (as opposed to leaflets dropped from aeroplanes in the early part of last century) and remind myself I/we don’t live in “Australia-The Lucky Country” anymore. It doesn’t surprise me that Dr Kruszelnicki did what he did. Give the money back … nah … what for? If Australians are too stupid to stand up to their government and make it clear that enough is enough, we deserve to be ripped off. Kruszelnicki’ll get his. He has to live with his conscience. That’s worse than whatever the “I can’t be bothered”, “Don’t get me involved” Australian public could dish out as punishment. I do believe the ads should be stopped and I couldn’t be more against government manipulation and misuse of my hard earned taxes if I tried. ABSOLUTELY. But really people, just turn the tele and the radio off. Stop filling your head with stuff and nonsense. Go out and generate your own opinions, address governments and make them accountable and behave responsibly.

  5. 0
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    Perhaps Dr Karl could look at other options or political bias, and then come back to endorse his original appointment

  6. 0
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    Thank the lord Dr Karl is not a surgeon! What sort of lame brain would act first before reading the fine print?

  7. 0
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    He has lost all credibility. What next? Will he endorse thee LNP in Queensland?

  8. 0
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    The govt will go ahead with the advertising campaign. Maybe he should spend some of his money to discredit the ad. Gone down down in my estimation

  9. 0
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    There’s a certain amount of responsibility that comes with being a public figure in this case he failed. I ‘m amazed Dr Karl didn’t read the report. In saying that the redeeming factor is that he was honest enough to own up to it publicly which is better than a lot of politicians would ever do. No-one is perfect.

  10. 0
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    I have the greatest respect for Dr Karl Kruszelnicki. It’s a pity he didn’t read the IGR before he endorsed it, but was he given an opportunity to read the full “report” or was he shown a selective summary? Can anybody trust the current government? They are liars, cheats and will do ‘whatever it takes’ to have their way. Dr Karl has learned, at some expense to his credibility, not to take the word of politicians who have been proven dishonest. In retrospect he has realised his mistake in not reading the IGR, and getting an independent, expert opinion of its validity before endorsing it. To his credit, he has publicly withdrawn his support once he became aware that it was an ideological political document and that he had been lied to. (as we all have, often) It would be wrong to return his “fee” to the liars, better to donate it to a refugee support organisation or similar charity working to undo Abbott and Hockey’s damage to our national reputation and ethical capital.

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