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This program is not captioned. Ericsson Access Services. Hello, welcome to The Drum. I'm Julia Baird. Coming up. The blame game begins in the wake of South Australia's massive power ought -- outage.

Academics protest Sydney University's decision to award John Howard an honorary doctorate. And we speak to the author of Fight Like A Girl, Clementine Ford.

Joining me on the panel this evening, senior writer with The Australian, Sharry Markson. Co-host of 2UE breakfast John Stanley. Hello, and in Melbourne Daily Life columnist and author of Fight Like A Girl Clementine Ford. As we always invite you to do, join us on Twitter using the hashtag The Drum in our respectful civil and very energetic conversation. Now, first of all, South Australia. The question today how does an entire state lose power? That's being asked after a severe storm plunged South Australia into darkness. The lights are mostly back on in Adelaide but tens of thousands of properties are still blacked out and more bad weather is on the way. So fierce was last night's storm that the Bureau of Meteorology described it as a once in a 50-year event. That hasn't stopped some politicians from blaming the power failure at least in part on South Australia's reliance on renewable energy.No, I -- now, I regret to say that a number of the state Labor governments have, over the years, set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic and have paid little or no attention to energy security.Let me be absolutely clear. Energy security is this government's number one priority. We must keep the lights on. And while we are transitioning to a lower emissions future, we will not compromise on energy security.What happened yesterday was a storm event. What it did was destroy infrastructure. What the system did was to protect itself so we could get it up and running quickly and that's exactly what happened. The best way to prevent these kind of storms and this kind of damage from occurring in the future is to move more quickly to renewable energy and to take urgent action to tackle global warming.We need an independent inquiry to get to the truth of what occurred so it doesn't happen again. Last night South Australia was the laughing stock of the nation because we didn't have power and the question is was it avoidable? That is the question, was it avoidable. John, a lot of people using this storm for political ends very quickly. How did you read it and do you think it's right to blame the reliance on renewable energy? Again I'm not an engineer as most people are. They're following all of this and people are piling in with their views and we have seen there, for instance, Adam Bandt sighing down the track, 50 years from now we may be able to improve things. But in the short term this has been a controversial issue, the high level of wind power renewables in South Australia. There have been issues when there's been no wind and no sun in the evenings when there have been problems and the spot prices have gone up, that was reported last week. Immediately people joined the dots and said, "This must be linked to that. " There's some argument that wasn't the case, the infrastructure went down. There's an argument maybe it could have been brought back more quickly if there'd been some gas load powers, gas power station. But if the lines are down, whatever power is being produced can't be sent anywhere if the lines are down. Some of the images of those extraordinary images of the metal, large metal things - what they call them, that carry the lines across the country coming down, it did look like a pretty big storm but people are contesting whether this storm is as bad as has been the case so. Maybe the answer would come with the independent inquiry that Nick Xenophon wants to get to the bottom of the alternatives of what might have happened and they do need to upgrade their system in South Australia, because they've only got one link at the moment into Victoria through the national grid. They're talking about getting one into NSW that would make them more capable of accessing power from a different source if this happened again.Other states experience would show were they to address the vulnerabilities in the system it would make electricity more expensive.NSW, because of some very big storm there is, that led to blackouts in some cases, couple of weeks in some parts of Sydney, the NSW system was gold plated was the term used, huge amounts of money to upgrade the system. Prices did go up but the system is more reliable now than it is in South Australia. I think industry has been saying today when you get to that last few per cent in terms of trying to make the system more efficient there's a cost there. You'll have to pay more for power to have a more reliable system tlchl's a trade-off there. Did you find it so odd that quickly it became a heated debate whether we invest in renewables?Yeah, it's extraordinary. It's probably the first time there was a natural disaster. The storms are continuing in South Australia today and there's going to be extreme weather again tonight and it very quickly became political and even the Prime Minister was dragged into it. Both him and the Energy Minister Frydenberg made it very clear that the weather was the direct result of the power outage, not renewable energy but it was interesting that they took the opportunity to talk about renewables and... More than took the opportunity. Said this had created a strong vulnerability because of the haste of some states and almost the bragging rights of some states to be ahead on environmental action.Of Labor governments and Turnbull used the words very aggressive and perhaps it was Turnbull showing the right of his party once again that he understands their concerns. Barnaby Joyce obviously went to the extreme and you had Weatherill accusing him of launching a jihad on windfarms but the public's take out from today will be they will have ongoing concerns about renewable energy. In your reporting, have you - did you think there has been any kind of reluctance or any slowness around the idea of investment in in area? So many economists have identified this as critical in economic terms alone not just in service delivery terms.Really interestingly there's one Australian company called at lan tas, the CEO is Tim. And he's from Adelaide. They've had to move to Scotland where they're powering about 150,000 homes, the company is opt London stock exchange, doing extremely well, had investment from Macquarie bank, it's a world-leading company and it's like wind turbines but in the ocean so it uses the ocean power to create energy but Australia, Tim the CEO said Australia just wasn't interested in investing in this technology or having it so they're trialling it overseas. So there has been a reluctance in our country to really adopt innovation in a -- the renewable area. Do you think events like this will have an impact on investment and how we address investment in things like renewables?I hope it doesn't. I mean I'm more of an idealist in this circumstance and I have absolutely no scientific background at all oar qualifications to discuss that. So carry on.I'll offer my opinion anyway. I hope that it doesn't have any effect on the approach that the public and the attitude that the public takes towards renewables because I think it's correct to say it's been used as a little bit of a political football and there's definitely some weasel words in there which is really concerning. The fact of the matter is we cannot continue using energy in the traditional old ways that we have done. Climate change is real. We need to accept the reality of that. It's very short sighted to think that - and ar arrogant to think we can continue -- and very arrogant to think we continue behaving the way are and think we control to earth as opposed to us being guests here. Bruce Robertson said no amount of planning can account for exceptional weather events. I think we'll be seeing so much more of that in the future. You know, it makes me mad as someone who is looking - who is -- who has recently had a Bailly, makes me sad as someone who is raising someone for the future to see this being used as a political football. We should want to have a livable earth for our children.OK chct something else that's made a loot of --km something else that's made a lot of people very angry MH17. The Prime Minister has vowed to get justice for the almost 300 victims of this plane disaster A 2-year investigation found a BUK missile brought from Russia to Ukraine was responsible for downing the jet. The Dutch-led investigation team said the missile had been fired from a village under the control of pro-Russian rebels. Moscow has dismissed the inquiry as biased and politically motivated. 38 Australians were killed in the disaster which prompted then prime minister Tony Abbott to threaten to shirt-front Russian President Vladimir Putin.Look I'm going to shirt-front Mr Putin. You bet you are. You bet I am. I am going to be saying to Mr Putin, "Australians were murdered. They were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian-supplied equipment. We are very unhappy about this."I have raised the matter with President Putin only a few weeks ago. Every single one of those murdered victims, killed by that missile, brought in from Russia, fired with the knowledge of Russia, every single one of them demands justice, and we will be tireless in our efforts to ensure that justice is done. John Stanley, are you interested we're being tireless in our efforts? He said he raise it it -- raised it with Vladimir Putin. What did he say to him? ... Discussions.Would he say, "You must know who did this." "Fess up. You must know the circumstances." He would know. What else can we do? What did he say to him? What can we do? The relatives of the people involved for them it would be very frustrating because they know geo politics is involved and they would be thinking, "Well, in the end, they're down the pecking order in terms of where all of this lies." But you would like to know what he did to -- said to him. Yeah, and the relatives would like to know. A lot of this was established two years ago online. At the time the Russians said none of this was the case in terms of the flight path, there was another plane in the vicinity. Does it -- vicinity. Does it not create a dangerous precedent if we don't get acknowledgement of this?The report came out, they've had 200 people working on the report and Russia still put out a statement today saying that it didn't accept the report, saying it was politically motivated, biased and once again blaming the investigative teams' reliance according to Russia on Ukraine and saying a lot of the information was falsified, Russia was outraged that it wasn't brought into the heart of the investigation. So, it's one thing if it was a mistake and if the Russian-backed rebels in that territory in Ukraine hadn't meant to shoot down a plane. Mistake is one thing, but two years on, to still be refusing to offer any compensation to the nearly 300 victims, you know, 30 of which - 38 of which were Australian, let alone an apology is very hard to stomach. More interesting than what Malcolm Turnbull said to Putin, you want to know what Putin's response was back. That's right. What did he say? Clem when traebt made those shirt-front remarks, a word that has since entered the Australian lexicon, he was mocked for that. But now some people are saying they actually want Malcolm Turnbull to be tougher, to use harsher language. Well, I don't think that using language like - I would hope that no-one would want Malcolm Turnbull to shirt-front Vladimir Putin. I think that whole episode was incredit wli embarrassing. It's interesting -- incredibly embarrassing. It's more interesting to me as a lay person the lack of kind of - certainly from my perspective the lack of public push on this I think is telling because I feel like - I feel like it's reflective of where the public chooses to direct their animosity. Certainly if this was happening not in Russia but if this had happened in the Middle East I think the reaction would be very different. For me I feel like the families of the people on board that plane absolutely need to be - you know, the tragedy of that needs to be addressed in a very serious manner. And I'm going to be flippant now. But Donald Trump seems to have a very good relationship with Vladimir Putin so perhaps we can ask him. I don't think that's a flippant point at all. There's been many, many substantial analyses of, you know, Putin's view of Trump and vice versa. This is obviously something we'll have to keep a close eye on considering NATO is also involved and Donald Trump has made some very strong statements about NATO. One other thing I want to talk about that does not involve Trump or Putin but is happening at Sydney University tomorrow. More than a hundred Sydney academics are protesting the decision to aform former prime minister John Howard an honorary doctorate. The university says it's honouring John Howard's gun reform, leadership East Timor and contribution to the economy. The academics signed a protest against it. They say it's an insult to Indigenous Australians, refugees and anyone committed to multiculturalism, peace and social progress. They've also labelled the former prime minister a racist and a war criminal. What do you make of this protest?I think it is absolutely dispeckle. This protest is led by a professor called Riemer -- ream ream ream who is part of a centre for peace at the -- Nick Riemer who is part of the centre for peace at university. Recently there was a general who led the British forces in Afghanistan and he came to the Sydney University to give a speech. And Nick Riemer was one of the people who protested and in the protest there were supporters of his butt. This is a very disruptive group of academics who are causing problems here. Bob Hawk has been -- is being recognised later this, Whitlam has been recognised. There were major problems with his government and he was recognised. John Howard did make enormous contributions particularly with gun form. Countless more lives would have been lost if he hadn't introduced those laws after Port Arthur. He does deserve to be acknowledged for those things. I'm hearing agreement from you, John.The decision was made by the Senate and there are people on the Senate who have been involved in Indigenous reconciliation, some very prominent people who wouldn't consider to be from the right on the Senate who made the decision but you can contest John Howard's record. You can argue about the decision to go into Iraq. I don't agree with it, I thought it was wrong at the time and there are plenty of us who believe he's wrong. But he's our second longest serving Prime Minister. They've made their point, put out their letter. There are students graduating tomorrow. And I heard talk back this afternoon from parents of students who are most upset and students are upset this is going to interrupt and disrupt this graduation. Ceremony. Clem what, do you think about the whole concept of honorary doctorates? You must know a lot of people who walked that long, perilous lonely journey, many years of rigorous research, of not being paid very much, and have earned a scholarly endeavour and rigour and lot of those people say they're offended by the whole concept of honorary doctorates. What do you make of those?They pinnish -- finished their HPDs. They have a huge dropout rate. It's a horribly, tremendously hard thing to do. I don't know what mai -- what my - I don't know I'm opposed to honorary doctorates per se but I think it's a dismissive to say they're the centre for disruption. Where else can you disrupt but on a university campus. I feel if anyone should be the status quo it should be stufrts -- students and academics and I think John Howard is a racist and war criminal. I think his record on Indigenous policies was horrible. They're both very strong claims. Can you spell out why you think he's a war criminal first of all.Well, I think that the decision to go into Iraq based on supporting our relationship with America was incorrect. To be weapons of mass destruction turned out to be false. Does that make him a criminal?I would say that the loss of lives of Iraqis in particular, the loss of civilian lives, is something that is often overlooked and should absolutely not be, and I think that decision and choice to overlook that is part and parcel of a racist society.I think the decision was wrong but I think war criminal is a very strong term. If you think of the term - the people you evoke when you think of war criminals I wouldn't be putting John Howard up there. I wouldn't be doing that and I think also to start to talk about his record, I think this is an hish of courtesy isn't it? He's coming along, a former prime minister, he's had a series of achievements. They have made their point, put out their letter. Let the ceremony go ahead tomorrow. Wouldn't be that be the best way to do it? In the end anything they do from now on is going to be counterproductive? Or is it part of a civil society that the ceremony will go ahead and people object and say it's not rite and right?And ruin the ceremony? They've made their choice.It's incredibly disrespectful.It is. These are meant to be academics and professors. I think ream ream ream and Jake and that bunch and Nick Riemer has organised this petition are incredible disrupt i. John Howard, along with Bob Hawk later this year deserve to be honoured for the various reforms they introduced. John Howard is not a war criminal and not a racist and it's the University of Sydney has chosen to honour them in way -- in in way, both side of politics and it's not civil to be disruptive.And to the final topic, what does it mean to Fight Like A Girl? Our panellist Clementine Ford has just written a book or as she calls it a manifesto for women which is Fight Like A Girl. You must be one of the most polarising people in Australia, relentlessly trolled online, adored by screaming fans in real life. Now, to even tweet that you're coming on the show, invites kind of instant, intense fervour on both sides and most particularly from trolls. Some people say this is the new feminist frontier which is online. Tell us why instead of the conventional wisdom, which is you should walk away, ignore it, don't engage the trolls. Tell us why you stay and fight.I don't think that walking away and ignoring people has ever worked. I think that often times women are told to block - certainly in the context of social media, block, delete, move on. Why don't you just leave the internet? Get off the internet. This is, you know, what women are told generally speaking - ignore men when they're rude to you, when they yell at you on the street, just about sosh all of this abuse from, you know, the most mild kind of abuse to the most extreme, just about sosh it because we don't want to cause any trouble or make waves. It's never worked and it's resulted in making women feel progressively smaller and smaller in themselves and less confident about their ability to speak about against these kinds of things. I feel like my attitude is that people are going to hate ne anyway. A lot of people do. I'm not going to let that stop me from speaking out and the more and more I do it and the more I - the more kind of very particularly gendered abuse that I receive, the less impact it has on me. Are you immune to it? -- it now?I feel like I am not immune to it in the - as I was saying to you the other night at my book launch, that it hurts me deeply when I see young women being trolled online and especially when I see young women shutting their media accounts because they feel they've been scared away from it. I feel that very deeply. When it's directed a the me I feel I know how to handle it and it doesn't really better me. But you near -- you're not always confident that other people necessarily have built up that thick skin, and I - I feel it in slightly different ways. One of the things - I can probably pre- -- predict right now we'll be getting hostile tweets womaning in, the way you talk back, not pauk and talk back politely, often use obscene language. How do you criticise people for taking such a fierce approach in response?There's a loot of people out there, men in particular, who seem to have Google alerts on my name and Facebook alerts on and make sure to make their opinions very well heard whenever it comes up that I might be appearing somewhere. The thing is that I'm sure Sharri has something to say about this because she did write an article about me being abusive on The Australian. Definitely.She didn't address the fact that one of her colleagues Tim makes a habit of abusing women and also suggested I might be transitioning to a man, has a nickname nor me which he used in one of his columns. Never looked into the fact when she pointed out I was a hypocrit for calling Miranda a name on a Twitter it was responding to an article Miranda had written the before arguing F-ing gay (BLEEP) wasn't a homophobic slur to use on the rugly field and the player who used it shouldn't be refer -- suspended. The title was "the NRL are gay". So when I responded to her using those words, I was trying to point out if you don't think this is abusive how do you feel when someone uses it against you particularly a country where so young men are committing suicide because of their hidden homosexuality because they feel they can't come out. With know that is true in discussions of Safe Schools. When I respond to people they've said something to me or something that's abusive to other people. I don't feel I really make a habit of going after people unless they've contacted me first. I may have done it once or twice but I don't feel that's my directive. Yeah.Clem, I do agree with you what Tim Blair -- Blair said sa called you, the nickname was inappropriate. I think you are a troll and you do abuse people and have abused people including Miranda on Twitter.About Miranda, which I have explained and I find it interesting coming from you.You can't justify...I have defended you on Twitter against abuse. I find it interesting you're taking this stance when I have clearly made it quite obvious what my position is. You call Tim's comments inappropriate but I feel you would draw the line at calling one of your own colleagues a troll when it's clearly what he does. He runs yearly polls about finding Australia's biggest feminist fright back. How can you not call it a troll?When I had a media column I defended some comments by Tim. Let's broader the discussion.Yes. I generally disagree with your approach not just on this but also on the issue of nude selfies. I think women do have a responsibility over their actions and on Twitter I take the Miranda approach, which is you block anyone who trolls you and that has been very successful. You completely block them. And it ends up being quite a pleasant environment on social media. With the issue you're raising... I want to get Clem's response to the question of nude selfies and blocking but John, if I can get you to weigh in.Interesting in preparing for this today I was actually listening to an interview that was done on radio national with Clem with someone who is a lot smarter than me. She agreed with Clem everything was saying. I didn't agree with all of it. #i6 come from commercial radio, dominated by men. There's a view in commercial radio that the audience -- audience, women in particular, don't like listening to women on radio which is plainly wrong. But people, even young people, still believe that. I think a lot of what she is saying is valid and is worthwhile but I also find myself here as the only male on a panel.Feeling OK? Welcome to our world.Sharri has a very powerful voice in Australia. Now you have.No. There are - I want Clem's response to this. This book is really about doing what John's talking about, claiming a voice or claiming a physical or cyberspace. What is your advice to women in light of the remarks you've heard on the column, on the panel tonight?I think that it's one thing to suggest women should be responsible for their actions but it sounds like what Sharri's saying is women should also be responsible for men's actions. Nowhere in that critique, hers tore critique of women that take photographs which are stolen from them and shared with the express of degrading and humiliating them so men can bond with each other, is any kind of suggestion that we should demand better of this, and men and boys doing this should be held responsible for their actions. I feel like we're actually at a point now where the internet has done this remarkable thing where it allows women to communicate and connect with each other.Almost out of time.Work together. I think that's a really powerful... I'm sorry we can but we can take this online afterwards. It's a fascinating book, Fight Like A Girl. I think a lot of people will be interested in thought provoked by this. Thanks to everyone - Sharrie Markson, John Stanley and Clementine Ford. Back again tomorrow night with much more robust discussions. We'll see you then.

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