“The link between the fires, drought, and climate change is clear. For decades, climate models have predicted a hotter, drier Australia thanks to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Were greenhouse gases at pre-industrial levels, natural factors alone would produce a year as hot as 2019 just once every 360 years. But add the effect of human-emitted greenhouse gases and the probability drops to one year in eight—a forty-five-fold increase in probability.” Tim Flannery
Scotty from Marketing, as The Betoota Advocate dubs our Schlockmeister of spin, is busier than a one-eyed cat watching two rat-holes. The parliamentary year from hell awaits. After his “miracle victory” pitch, an upset helped hugely by political cane toad, Clive Palmer, and his gift of sixty million dollars of anti-Labor negative advertising plus Scotty’s own campaign of outright lies about Opposition policy and endless defamatory attacks on Bill Shorten’s character, Scotty’s political future is already in extremis.
“PR is the place people end up when all other professional options fail, writer and lawyer Richard Ackland, unerringly, observes, “and now Schmo has failed at the failures’ last resort.”
Arrogant, hopelessly out of touch, fearless cheerleader, Scotty, has botched his one big chance to fake empathy and leadership, opinion pollsters suggest. How? A lot of it is simply not turning up to the gig. Going AWOL. Hanging loose on Waikiki. Catching up with his loopy QAnon pal, Tim Stewart who believes that the world and its media are run by a conspiracy of Satan-worshipping paedophiles.
Woody Allen reckons, eighty percent of success is just showing up. Murdoch’s latest News Poll, fresh out of rehab, and Guardian Australia oracle, Essential, both agree that Morrison’s on the nose. His government, like a fish, is rotting from the head down – despite Scotty’s best charm offensive; repairing trust by forcing bushfire victims to shake his hand; visiting fire-ravaged areas only to be told to “fuck off”.
Who would have thought? Why should our worst bushfire crisis ever deprive Scotty of his right to a Waikiki Holiday? Who’d have guessed blaming Jen and the girls would have alienated the Australian nation? Will blaming Bridget McKenzie for his own sports-rorts pork-barrelling similarly backfire? Will the Senator for Elwood get the last laugh?
Even Simon Benson, The Australian’s top Coalition flack, notes 12 January’s News Poll has produced the worst numbers for Scotty since he knifed Turnbull in August 2018. Morrison’s now on par with Bill Shorten at his least popular. Now, Labor’s Anthony Albanese easily pips Morrison as preferred PM.
Essential’s Peter Lewis notes that “good in a crisis” is down 35% amidst a decline in Morrison’s personal standing. One in seven Australians have changed their minds about Scotty from Marketing in a month – but the surprising thing is not that he’s “taken a personal hit but that it isn’t a walloping.”
Yet there’s hope. Blaming Greens and arsonists cuts it with Morrison’s base. In a parallel with Trump supporters, just when the leader is most conspicuously not a leader’s bootlace, his base locks in.
Scotty will claw back some kudos by blaming arsonists and demonic Greens who oppose hazard-reduction, despite expert evidence that catastrophic fires burn even where the forest floor is clear. ABC Fact Check experts concur that it is highly unlikely arson is the cause of most of the current bushfires.
Scapegoating aside, Scotty will rebuild trust with a farrago of lies. He tells ABC viewers,
“It is, and always has been, the policy of our government to understand the need to take action on climate change and the impact that has on the world’s broader weather systems and climate systems,” Morrison bullshits to Michael Rowland on ABC 7:30, more an on-air massage than an interview.
Understand the need to take action? Morrison makes not cooking the planet sound like remembering to floss your teeth. The coalition government has no climate change policy. The claim is absurd. Look how quickly it got rid of Malcolm Turnbull when its right wing rump feared that he might adopt one.
Turnbull previously lost his party leadership to Abbott in 2009 by supporting carbon emissions-trading. Nick Feik, editor of The Monthly sums up some of the other inconvenient truths undermining Morrison’s hollow claim. Far from understanding the need for action, his government has opposed it at every turn.
“(It) killed the emissions trading scheme and the climate change portfolio; tried to kill the renewable energy target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation; defunded the Climate Council; supports Adani’s massive proposed coalmine; has no significant emissions-reduction or energy policy; and is populated with climate deniers.” And those deniers show no sign of any Damascene conversion.
Someone needs to call bullshit on Morrison’s brand new mantra, “it has always been our policy.”
Last September, for example, David Littleproud professed not to know whether the global heating crisis was man-made. This month, Science Minister, Karen Andrews, says the “science is settled” but the Coalition will do nothing to lift its woefully inadequate carbon emissions targets.
And only last September, Ms Andrews was making the big pitch that
Harnessing new technologies in the mining, oil and gas industries will add $74 billion to the Australian economy by 2030 and create more than 80,000 new local jobs. Jobs and growth? All sorted then. But ABS figures suggest nothing like this.
Time to phone a friend. Federal energy minister Angus Taylor has an “expert panel” –led by former Origin Energy CEO and president of the Business Council of Australia, Grant King, along with Susie Smith, the CEO of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, which represents many of Australia’s largest emitters.
Taylor claims his panel will identify new opportunities to achieve emissions reduction – without explaining how. The panel has undertaken a closed consultation to which the public has not had input with Taylor’s handpicked group of representatives heavily stacked towards the fossil fuel industry and Australia’s largest emitters, reports Renew Economy’s Michael Mazengarb.
Angus Taylor’s list clearly indicates a government in cahoots with the polluters causing global heating. But Taylor’s case is fair and reasonable compared to Matt Canavan’s.
How does Scotty explain Canavan, the self-styled “Mr Coal from Australia” who tells Sky News calls to reduce emissions, especially by Greta Thunberg, are about social engineering than climate change?
“Their policy prescriptions aren’t actually about reducing carbon emissions, it’s about the radical massive changes to our economy and society and culture.”
Seriously? As opposed to the radical changes caused by doing nothing?
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists executive chair of its Science and Security Board, former Governor of California, Jerry Brown, exposes Scotty’s posturing. “The Australian government is in utter and complete denial. Under its current leadership, Australia is fostering denial in an incredibly mendacious way.”
Now is not the time to talk about Greg Hunt’s soil magic but our ABC could at least hold the PM to account on how our bushfire catastrophe burns a hole in Hunt’s Direct Action tree-planting boondoggle.
“Carbon credits counted in government projections can, quite literally, go up in smoke and blow out the emissions side of the CO2 ledger,” ANU climate scientist, Will Steffen explains.
There’s also more bullshit of “evolving” climate policy and other ScoMo-hoaxes to cloak the reality that his mining lobby muppet government has no intention of curbing emissions or fostering renewables.
True, the PM’s crafty plan runs up against a raft of inconvenient truths such as The Greens not actually being in power or billionaire climate science denier Michael Hintze’s funding of Liberals for years, but, as Lewis points out, supporters will grab on to whatever they can in order to maintain their world-view.
The PM could explain why Hintze, a crusading Neoliberal who disputes scientific evidence that carbon emissions are rapidly helping cause irreversible global heating, donated $75,000 to former, fellow dud Prime Minister, Tony Abbott’s 2013 election campaign – amongst other Liberal Party support over the years. Hintze also enjoys a cordial long-running business relationship with Energy Minister Angus Taylor.
Only a year ago Morrison was preaching to us in The Daily Telegraph that Australians can always be counted on to make and keep our commitments. Exposed is his own utter lack of commitment to lead or to plan or to heed climate scientists’ or accept expert fire-fighters’ advice. Instead, he is a total liability.
Recent Australia Institute polling leads senior researcher, Tom Swann to conclude.
“Australia is in the grip of a national climate disaster. The social, economic and medical impacts are vast and only just starting to become clear,”
“Our research shows that it’s likely more than 5 million Australian adults, along with many children, have suffered negative health impacts as a result of the fires and at least 1.5 million have missed work.”
Lying about climate policy is taxing. Yet Scotty suddenly has a crisis on his hands – the Coalition’s $100 million sports rorts scandal reveals a government avidly milking the till, ripping off the taxpayer and other more deserving local sports clubs in favour of buying support in marginal seats.
In brief, then Sports Minister, Bridget McKenzie took it upon herself to decide which clubs got the grants. It turns out that she has no legal authority to do so. The Auditor-General, Grant Hehir is underwhelmed.
If only, in 2019, Georgina Downer hadn’t flashed a giant polystyrene cheque for $127, 373. Downer wished to “make sure the Yankalilla Bowling Club’s Community Sport Infrastructure grant application was successful”. It was. And battling Adelaide Hills Council also got almost $500,000 to upgrade change rooms at the oval.
Downer’s oversized cheque leads the Auditor-General to uncover a $100 million pork-barrel racket under the aegis of then Minister for Sport, Bridget McKenzie, with the help of two members of the PM’s staff.
Australians are still coming to terms with Morrison’s deceit and his fake apology and whilst the sociopath in him would like to con us that we’ve “moved on”, it doesn’t work like that. The rorts will do little to curb growing suspicion of his government’s corruption, incompetence and sheer contempt for due process.
“The past is not dead. It is not even past”, William Faulkner observed. Scotty’s shameless dereliction of duty, his substitution of PR strategy for policy and his contempt for accountability continue to eat away at his credibility as the bushfire crisis and the sports rorts scandal take their toll. As do his gaffes.
Monday, he stuffs up comprehensively, promising Nine’s Today that over ten years, “Our per capita emissions will fall by half”. This adds up to a massive forty-two per cent reduction. Even his own Environment Department boffins predict only a four percent over the same period – a decline from 532 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent in 2019 to 511 million tonnes in 2030.
Michael Pascoe boggles: not only does the PM clearly not know what he’s talking about, his hosts, Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon don’t notice. Hosts are only there to fawn over the most inept PM in our nation’s history. Show business for ugly people, celebrity back-scratchers.
As Pascoe notes, no-one pays attention, cares or follows whatever inanity comes out of the PM’s motor mouth. And to be fair, you do tune out after a while.
When he promised to “burn” for us, Morrison’s vision did not include megafires for which he’s completely unprepared. Then there’s his sports rorts; the scandal of doling out grants he isn’t entitled to. Will these prove to be his minister’s auto da fe?
Now Scotty’s doing the hard yards, slaving away back at the PM’s office, signing press drops disclaiming all responsibility for sports rorts or doing nothing at all to curb global heating and less than nothing to heed expert advice that we need to prepare for a terrible new type of bushfire. But, seriously, what would a mob of dedicated, distinguished and experienced former fire chiefs know about anything?
Also missing in action is Il Duce, Peter Dutton, our ambitious Home Affairs Czar whose duties include “Commonwealth emergency management and natural disaster relief, recovery and mitigation and financial assistance”. More powerful than the PM, Dutton has yet to do a tap – a sure sign that he’s keen to foster resilience and promote self-help by doing nothing at all for bushfire victims.
Dutto oozes natural leadership with his Queensland Drug squaddie jollity, his compassion and his endless hypervigilance over scoundrels who might rort our Border Protection by faking illness just to get into a mainland hospital but his emergency role, so far, is limited to accusing Labor of pork-barrelling, too.
Morrison’s nemesis, Malcolm Turnbull weighs in, Wednesday. Scotty double-double crossed his PM with the most brazen lie in our political history on 22 August, 2018. Morrison threw an arm around Turnbull, “This is my leader and I’m very ambitious for him”, he said in a rare break from plotting to knife his PM in the back.
Still wounded by the betrayal, Turnbull can’t fathom Morrison’s conduct, he helpfully tells BBC listeners. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
“I can’t explain why he didn’t meet the former fire commissioners who wanted to see him in March last year to talk about the gravity of the threat. Everybody knew we were in a very dry time and as a consequence the fire season was likely to be very bad.
“So rather than doing what a leader should do and preparing people for that, he downplayed it and then of course chose to go away on holiday in Hawaii? At the peak of the crisis? I just can’t explain any of that. It’s just not consistent with the way in which a prime minister would or should act.”
In the far pavilions of Victoria’s Liberal festering wen of corruption, rising evangelicals and intrigue, the lobster with the mobster crew in Victoria are no help at all. Current leader Michael O’Brien, elected for not being Matthew Guy, calls on the federal government to adopt long-term “sensible” emissions reduction targets. Communities and businesses need certainty beyond 2030. It’s the old, trite, tired slogan.
And it’s bullshit. O’Brien still wants native forest logging, so vital to micro-climate, ecology and to species survival and he’s full of guff about how gas is heaps better than coal because – you know … transition to renewables. He’s just another Liberal fossil fuel shill pretending to take global heating a little bit seriously.
Natural gas is a bridge to nowhere. It comprises mainly methane, a greenhouse gas that plays a big role in cooking our planet. When it first enters our atmosphere, it’s 120 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat. Over twenty years, it’s eight-six times more powerful.
Methane leaks from natural gas extraction and production. This may make natural gas extracted from shale rock worse than coal in terms of its greenhouse gas footprint. The chemicals used in fracking fluid can easily end up contaminating groundwater. And drilling can be enormously polluting.
But it’s all OK, Scotty knows what to say. He deploys the lame “if anyone’s offended” cop-out to cover absconding to Hawaii. Besides, as everyone knows, bushfires are totally a state matter. Expect a piece in the Murdoch press quoting unnamed high-ranking Liberals exposing O’Brien as a hopeless bed-wetter.
Above all, not one catastrophic inferno could ever be linked to Morrison’s government’s crusade to mine, sell or burn coal, for its fossil-fuel industry robber baron sponsors. Long may their tax-payer funded subsidies suck dry the funds that should go towards running schools, hospitals and making payments to disability pensioners.
No-one’s making the absurd claim that any single fire is solely caused by climate change but Morrison just loves the straw man logical fallacy – almost as much as he loves scapegoating and slurs.
As everyone knows, everything is always Labor’s fault. Tim Wilson, IPA MP for Goldstein instead of IPA fellow Georgina Downer, bags Daniel Andrews for slack hazard reduction. It’s as dishonest and as baseless as Tim’s election campaign franking credits farce. But it fits the PM’s lie that bushfires can be blamed on Greens, Labor -anyone. For seven years, Wilson was IPA Director of Climate Change Policy to protect mining.
Look over here, calls Morrison, Tuesday. I’ve got a little list. It’s more than a bid to look busy. Morrison is out to create a fake climate agenda by proposing a “national register to ensure hazard reduction transparency at a federal level”. Karen Andrews has also been on the front foot to ensure that we just stop talking about how fossil fuels are helping us to fry the planet and instead talk about land-clearing.
“My starting position in the discussion tomorrow will be that the climate has changed and it continues to change. We need to focus on the steps to adapt and mitigate the impact of those changes.” Karen is Morrison’s Science Minister, a captain’s pick which confirms his perverse delight in choosing MPs whose views are antithetical to the portfolios they are assigned. Adapt and mitigate is coal lobby nonsense.
And it’s disingenuous. Australia is experiencing unprecedented, unpredictable and devastating climate change and we should be taking steps to reduce the carbon and other emissions that are part of its causation. Her “discussion” is a version of Morrison’s NRA gun lobby mantra: “Now is not the time …”
The national register is all part of Scotty’s team plan to divert attention from his government’s monumental failure of leadership in all aspects of the current bushfire crisis by blaming the states for not preventing the fires.
After unprecedented, catastrophic fire consumes 10 million hectares, destroys over 2,000 homes and kills at least 28 people, destroys some of the oldest forests in the world, kills nearly 500 million animals and causes the loss of sites that hold the timeless history of First Nations’ cultures, there’s nothing like a bit of scapegoating to restore the nation’s faith. Cue hypocritical hand-wringing from the Murdoch press.
Fearless advocate of fossil fuel and an early champion of “axing the tax: as Australia’s successful price on carbon, 2012-2014 was cynically misrepresented, The Australian now laments part of the costs.
The Oz estimates that the bushfire crisis has cost $2 billion in lost business revenue, forward sales and the physical destruction of tourism facilities, and could cost an additional $4.5 billion by season’s end.
Scotty’s non-apology helps us all heaps. We treasure his “regret” for “any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time”.
Scotty’s always got a glib comeback; an adman’s spin. He totally gets that we all like to see him take charge in times of crisis. Besides Jen and the girls needed a break. He pushes them under a bus. It’s something he’d like to do with Bridget McKenzie, but can’t – yet – because she’s a National and can do more or less what she likes according to the secret agreement that lies at the Coalition’s sclerotic heart.
In the end, Scotty spins. Wednesday, he makes a big deal out of announcing that the Auditor-General’s adverse finding that the allocation of funds intended to be awarded by Sport Australia is a process which appears to have be ignored or suborned by the then Minister for Sport and her PM.
It’s a headache. Not only did McKenzie hand out $100 million without legal authority on the basis of her own, political criteria, more worthy but unsuccessful grant applicants who followed a merit-based process could sue. Slater and Gordon is looking into a class action for those who missed out on grants.
Morrison refers former sports minister McKenzie’s handling of the $100m sports grants program to his own department to investigate whether ministerial standards were breached – even though the Auditor-General is concerned that it’s a tad more serious. Neither McKenzie nor Morrison have legal authority to hand out sports grants.
But don’t think the big guns aren’t being brought in. Attorney general and national paper tiger, our nation’s legal guardian, Christian Porter pretends to defend McKenzie after it’s revealed that she approved a $36,000 grant to a shooting club of which she is a member, claiming being a “paper member” of a club raises no probity issue.
The “only a paper member” defence is a stroke of forensic genius.
Sheer genius also is Ms McKenzie’s claim that she did not know she was a member of the club until her mother told her, a variation on Signor Matt Canavan’s “my mother made me an Italian” defence.
By Sunday, in the cross-hairs at Scotty’s political roo-shoot is the incredible Bridget McKenzie. McKenzie is already a VIP as a former sports minister. Does it get any more important than sport? OK, there may be a few minor peccadilloes such as our modern gladiators’ doping scandals, off-field homophobia, misogyny, match-fixing, substance abuse and FIFA’s corruption -but sport is huge.
“I know it will sound incongruous to people but hunting is about connecting with nature and the outdoors. You have to understand nature to reap the bounty of it,” she tells The Age’s Matthew Knott. Or have powerful automatic weapons such as the Adler A110, a banned rapid-fire shotgun.
Nothing says understanding nature more than the wild terror inflicted by the fearful noise of the shotgun. Just the sound of exploding black powder severely interrupts feeding and breeding. Quick kills are rare. Many animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths when hunters severely injure but fail to kill them.
The prohibition of the A110 was no real problem for McKenzie and our gun lobby to overturn quietly. Nor was there a single comment from then Attorney-General George Brandis or then Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who drew fire for heeding the gun lobby. In the year to March 2017, political parties pocketed over $300,000 in donations from the firearms lobby, gun suppliers and manufacturers.
Above all, McKenzie commands respect because she’s deputy leader of a mob of regional, parochial, benighted, mining Muppets who absurdly posture as The Nationals. Without the Nats to make up the Coalition’s numbers, however, the Libs are cactus.
Scott’s non-apology sets the tone for his government and for what is already proving to be a beaut new year of Coalition incompetence, evasion, denial and outright lying. Who will ever forget the inspiring leadership Morrison showed when he expressed “regret” for “any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time”.
Leading from the front this time, Scotty, himself, seems to have found $200,000 for a local Sutherland Shire Lilli Pilli Soccer club at least three weeks before grants were decided. A series of experts point out, yet again, that the PM has no legal authority to disburse funds designated for Sport Australia.
Nor does Bridget McKenzie. If he plays his cards right, Morrison will be able to handball Bridget McKenzie’s demotion to his own office’s Phil Gaetjens while he continues to snub a nation increasingly concerned that his government has no policy on greenhouse gas emissions.
Adding insult to injury, he will insist that his government “is evolving its policy” on climate change.
Scotty’s case is helped immensely, Monday, by his ugly personal and political attack on NSW Liberal Matt Kean, a state environment minister, who dares suggest that the federal government heed those voters who want the federal government to do something to protect our environment.
Other Liberal coal lobby shills, such as NSW deputy-leader John Barilaro quickly put the boot into Kean. As does Samantha Maiden in The New Daily who attacks the “Senator for Elwood”, as Bridget McKenzie is known in a helpful piece that will buck up the government’s spirits no end. It begins,
“Accused pork-barrelling minister Bridget McKenzie accepted a free Christmas ham from the pig industry, but took three months to declare her purchase of a $2 million investment property in beachside Melbourne.”
Looks like Bridget’s in deep trouble but will Morrison once again walk away – miraculously – Scott-free? Or will the Senator for Elwood have the last laugh after all?