Mainstream media remains quiet on Scott Morrison’s untimely holiday

That’s the title of my latest column in Independent Australia, which came out on Thursday. The news has just come in that Morrison is to curtail his trip and return home. Strikingly, it was the lead headline on news outlets, including the ABC, Guardian, and Fairfax/Nine that failed to report Morrison’s absence for days, then buried the news in stories leading with other topics.

All of that led me to some ill-tempered Twitter exchanges (the usual kind of Twitter exchange, I guess) with a variety of journos, including Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy, who gave equivocal denials that the PM’s Office had ordered their papers not to report to the trip, before closing the discussion, and declining further comment.

The core of the problem, I think, is that I’ve given up on Labor. Hoping for the Greens to replace them as the major left party may be forlorn, but it’s more likely, in my view, than that Labor will propose a policy remotely appropriate to the crisis we face.

But that’s not a tenable position of you want to be a political correspondent for a major newspaper. You can back one or other of the major parties, or be neutral between them, but you can’t suggest an alternative to the existing system. This piece by Katharine Murphy makes the best of the case for pushing Labor to improve, but it doesn’t convince me.

It’s already been stated that Labor won’t proposed anything to limit coal exports, which are Australia’s biggest contribution to the global climate disaster. Even achieving a 45 per cent reduction on 2005 emissions, as proposed in the last campaign will require much sharper policies than could have been applied if Labor had won, especially if we rule out accounting cheats.

A hypothetical Albanese government will be starting in 2022, with three more years of rising emissions outside the electricity sector. We’ll need organised shutdown of coal-fired power, a massive investment in renewables, reforestation of land cleared under Coalition lawa a government-driven electrification of the coal fleet. Does that sound like Albo to you.

About the only way this could happen is if the Greens somehow give Labor such a scare that they stop worrying about a handful of seats in coal-mining areas and start worrying about losing the great mass of their supporters. Giving Labor the benefit of the doubt is the worst thing we can do,

69 thoughts on “Mainstream media remains quiet on Scott Morrison’s untimely holiday

  1. I don’t think Albanese will win government in 2022. People would always prefer the actual right wing party to a wannabe right wing party.

  2. During the Vic bushfires Kevin Rudd was on site and evidently compassionate and empathetic – it was appreciated by the voters but not the political class.

    From the evidence it seems Smoko just can’t see the issue and literally had to be banged on the head with a 4 x 2 before a more proper response. The voters will remember this.

  3. Nah, the voters will remember what the Servants of Murdoch tell them is memorable, just as they have in the past. Especially since the ‘leader of the opposition'{sic} will only oppose once given permission by the servants it’s hard to see why they wouldn’t. Especially if we still have the bipartisan agreement that coal and coal exports are essential.

    I think the real hope here is that the bushfire season in 2022 is remarkably bad and voters decide to punish the people who brought it to them. Sadly it looks as though “remarkably bad” is going to be a very high bar to clear, by then the current season might well be normal. And like the claim that governments never lose when house prices are going up and interest rates down or whatever it is, we just have to hope that even Uncle Rupert can’t hide the ever-escalating climate catastrophe.

  4. Can I just object to “Mainstream media remains quiet”. This has been covered by everything from the Betoota Advocate to The Weekly to the Shovel. Even The Chaser have managed to fit in a mention.

    I won’t post links because WordPress seems to junk any post with links. Sorry.

  5. When the heat was truly on Smoko headed for the hills and that’s the enduring image.

    He seems to be dodging having to have a conversation about fires, climate change and his affection for that black rock.

  6. I think you’ve misread the ALP leadership position on climate change John. Albo, Penny Wong and Mark Butler are personally committed to as much action on climate change as they can achieve. Penny Wong when she was Climate Change Minister was devastated by the gang of 4 deciding (at the urging of Gillard and Swan) that climate change action by the Rudd Government would be deferred. Albo Wong and Butler have been arguing hard against the pro coal mining faction in the ALP of the CFMEU, Joel Fitzgibbon and others. But in order to get enough of the Right onside so as to achieve a half way decent policy, they have had to abandon any thought of restrictions on exports at this stage (apart from being strict on environmental approvals), and they are emphasising jobs. But they have very ambitious plans with regard to domestic emissions. Now is not the right time to unveil those plans, (but I expect you will see some of those plans after the Queensland elections).
    Mark Butler certainly knows there is no future for the fossil fuel industry. As he said in the article in the Australian on Wednesday ‘the world needs to transition off fossil fuels’. Expect to see more of these sorts of statements as we get closer to the 2022 election.
    This is a frustrating time for those of us who see the need for emergency action on climate change, but it really is not productive to bewail the lack of publicly proclaimed bold policies from the Federal Labor party at this point. It is best instead to push States and Territories and local councils and companies and individuals to act as rapidly as they can, to continue to sharply criticise the Federal Coalition Government, and to produce detailed proposals for Federal Labor to consider as they go through the process of deciding the detailed climate change policies they will announce at a later date.

    It hard to know what climate change policies Federal Labor will end up with as we approach the election in 2022. It will depend on who within the Party has the numbers and the best arguments. But I am hopeful, as an insider, that it will be a set of bold policies, which will be crafted in such a way that it is convincing (or at least not offputting) to the people in the outer suburban seats and the regional areas of Queensland, NSW and Tasmania. (And these are not a handful of seats).

  7. An episode like this would be the end for a Labor PM .All Gillard had to do was introduce a carbon trading scheme after saying there would be no carbon tax. She was whipped relentlessly as a ‘liar’ until she left office. As for the medium term big picture outlook , I will have to come down on the side of the pessimists. Until a couple of years ago I had more optimism.

  8. I saw those twitter exchanges, very interesting. I agree you were a tad harsh (not severely) but I also think they were rationalising.

    Whichever party steps up (and I’m disillusioned with the Greens and extremely disillusioned with Labor), they need to have a transition plan and be able to explain it to people. Better still, have the outlines of a transition plan, and invite people as partners to work out how to implement.
    This is not politics as usual, this is an emergency. I think people are beginning to get that. Now is not the time for temporizing, we have to hold our courage and say to voters ‘This is what needs to be done – how do we make it happen?’

  9. It was an emergency in 1990. But the leaders at the time did not want to deal with. They left dealing with it for latter. Latter, it got harder and harder to deal with. So, leaders had even less and less desire over time to want to try to tackle the problems.
    Military people are very aware of backwards planning and the time that it takes to do a big project.
    That is why they should be crucified to dea oops I mean tickeled to death….to hear about my plan to reduce gun vilolence in places.
    That leadership clearly operated by the motto Better Dead than Read, or maybe it was the motto, Lets Kill us all and let God sort us out. Well it appears that is going to happen.

  10. The monied and political classes are not going to step up and do this. The people will have to step up and force change themselves. The money-power nexus has to be replaced by the people-power nexus.

  11. James Wimberley.
    Timing is everything.
    If you go too early with detailed policy, the government will steal the best bits while at the same time saying your policy is shit. And circumstances change. A policy announced now for the post 2022 period, will not be as good as a policy announced in 2022, which can be based on all that has happened 2019 to 2022. Some big picture goals have been announced eg net zero carbon by 2050. But for emission reductions by 2030, a specific goal has not been announced – just that it will be more ambitious than the Government’s. And that’s the way it has to be, because if a specific goal was announced now, and then later made more ambitious, the Government and most of the media would say Labor was flip flopping.

  12. I think only climate science denial can explain Morrison’s choices – that if this were a normal kind of disaster it would be an opportunity to make a show of his leadership. But climate issue keeps rudely intruding, fanned, unreasonably, by climate extremists and irresponsible media elements that by his lights are going along with it; being unable to say or do what he really thinks without a backlash, better to say and do nothing. The plan was to not give fuel to the issue by engaging with it – the criticisms he is getting for not engaging with it still being preferred.

  13. If anyone does not want to make sure we do not have another one of these fires, then they have zero credibility… “even Uncle Rupert can’t hide ”

    Map overlaid with fire spread. Slow to watch but mesmerising. I know some people very near, right on bush – frightening. Get scale and you will be amazed at size of fire. This is bushranger country so nigh on impossible to fight on ground.

  14. “But Australia reducing it’s emissions to zero in 2020 will.not stop one bushfire.”

    Unfortunately, the old fools who push this line will be gone before the worst consequences arise. Still, they’ve arrived soon enough that they will go their graves with our curses.

  15. The Labor Party is not going to shift on climate change policy because it doesn’t need to. Apart from the occasional high profile independent the only alternative on the progressive side of politics is
    The Greens. Labor knows it can take The Green’s vote for granted because of the preferential system of voting in the House of Representatives. In most cases Green votes in lower the house finish up going to a major party, except in the rare case where The Greens head the primary count. The majority of those Green preferences go to Labor. If we we had optional preferential voting in the House of Reps Labor would think twice before dismissing The Greens and others calling for genuine action on climate change. We had optional preferential voting in Queensland until quite recently. It worked quite well. The principal being, if you want my vote, earn it. It even suited Labor for a while. Beattie’s slogan was ” just vote one.” At the last federal poll, had optional preferential voting been in place, many One Nation and Palmer voters would not have allocated preferences, which could have had a marked effect on the election result. We are no longer forced to number every square on a Senate ballot paper, why should we be forced to do so in the House of Representatives. If you want my vote “earn it.”

  16. RM
    If the Labor Party consisted entirely of people who were only after power, your comment would be correct. But many are in the Labor Party because they want to help build a better world. Unfortunately there are less of these idealists than there would have been if the Greens had not formed, so it is harder for the idealists in the ALP to get their policies adopted. But still. Quite often the idealists win, or at least the outcome is modified from what it would have been if the pure pragmatists ruled alone.
    And the Greens and Labor do work together when the Greens are prepared to compromise – as in the ACT and as quite often occurs in the Senate – despite the rhetoric from both sides!

  17. I actually found the remaining quiet whilst Australia sided with other obstructionists to prevent climate ambition at important climate negotiations to be especially dismaying. Having won an election and choosing to interpret that as quiet Australians agreeing with him on climate will reinforce the choice to avoid getting into serious discussions; upholding international agreements is an effective line that can be spun to those that agree with the LNP anti-ambition as something forced upon them by faceless UN globalists.

    I don’t think anyone reasonable expects Australia, alone, to make a huge difference but acting like doing our 1.3% at home and 3.6% (with exports) internationally makes no difference is utter nonsense; at the least we should do that. Would Morrison urge LNP voters not to bother voting because they are less than 1.3%? No. Australia needs to be on the side of the nations that want more action, not aligned with those that want less.

    To a PM that threw all the science based IPCC and CSIRO and BoM reports about it in the bin without reading all the fuss about linking fires and drought and water shortages to climate change can and will look like something created by unreasoning anti coal extremists and inflamed by irresponsible media organisations like the ABC. If climate change – the human induced version, not the “but the climate is always changing” sort – is fake news then waiting it out (with some praying for rain on the side) probably makes a group-thinking sort of sense.

  18. “To a PM that threw all the science based IPCC and CSIRO and BoM reports about it in the bin without reading all the fuss about linking fires and drought and water shortages to climate change can…”

    Only a moron or a crook would deny the scientific evidence. Sadly morons and crooks are plentiful.

  19. Dear JQ
    I appreciate the inclusive attitude to comments on this blog, but isn’t it going a bit too far allowing actual climate change deniers?

  20. Val… and people who blame the greens for labors problems: “less of these idealists than there would have been if the Greens had not formed”. I thought ideals are fungible.

    Logic out the window with the bath water.

    The new crop of science atheists are reasonably polite so I am not sure banning aporopriate. But when challenged or ignored they soon enough expose their absolutist ‘detrimental to humans and the environment’ proclamations and so end up banning themselves.

  21. @Val He’s a banned user, evading my block. I’ve tightened up, so hopeful no more will come through. But, as a warning against trying again, I’ve replaced his text with something more sensible.

  22. RM – yes; “why should we be forced to do so in the House of Representatives. If you want my vote “earn it.”

  23. I go on about fear and greed yet power needs a look in…

    “Is fragile masculinity the biggest obstacle to climate action?

    “Three things could happen if we made this shift in our thinking.

    “First, it would be easier to treat fossil fuel extraction and climate denialism as a pathetic expression of petro power and masculinity.

    “Second, this shift to calling out fragile leaders would allow us to treat climate denialism as a form of delicate resistance, a desperate clinging to power in the face of efforts to dramatically change environmental practices.

    “Third, it would be easier to see through the ways that virility is linked to combustion and consumption (think “drill baby drill”) and environmental protection is pitted against economic development and “real” jobs for (mostly white) men, like mining.

    “We know that more research won’t convince some politicians of the need to make big changes when it comes to the climate. So, let’s hit these guys where it hurts, in the metaphoric truck nuts.”

  24. @ Anonymous. If the Labor Party wishes to attract idealists to its ranks, it needs to learn how to ‘set agendas’ and ‘prosecute arguments.’ If ever an issue called for those skill sets, a bit of guts and political risk taking it is climate change. What both major parties are dishing up at the moment amounts to nothing less than criminal negligence. I resent the fact that come election time one of those parties will end with my lower house vote courtesy of our compulsory preferential voting system.

  25. RM – I have voted Labor in Albanese’s seat for the last 30 years. I will be very surprised if I vote Labor at the next election. These bushfires have terrified me enough that I will want to give the careerists in the ALP (I’m looking at you, Fitzgibbon et al) a pointed reminder that climate change is the top priority. I would regard it as a good result if Labor got into power and lost its leader on this issue. I doubt that will happen. But Labor should not be taking the inner city for granted.

  26. KT2
    I fully understand why the ALP is on the nose with many (most?) in the progressive left. I despair at the power many right wingers have in the party, as most of them are in it for their own self interest and in the interests of the rich. So I understand why many in the progressive left choose to participate in the Greens. But because they choose not to struggle on in the imperfect ALP, (where you have to get used to losing on issue after issue, with only occasional wins), it means that the progressive left has less numbers in the ALP than it otherwise would have. That’s why I think the split in the progressive left between those in the Greens and a minority in the ALP is unfortunate, as I think it means there is less chance of progressive policies being adopted by Governments.

  27. Since there is no email contact address listed I am making this appeal on a comment section. I do not think that banning climate denialists from a pro action blog is a good policy unless there is a large number of them of drowning out conversation. To drown out converstation requires a fairly large number of participants. If that number did happen to be exceeded then most climate denialists could be banned with a few being alllowed through the filters to prevent hardening of the intellectual arteries.
    Besides having a blindspot about 1 thing deos not mean that a person has a blind spot about everything.

  28. Seems like the ALP are getting a free ride on this issue.

    The ALP should be relentlessly hammering the govt; on their climate policy, their defunding of public services, their lack of empathy for victims and volunteers, their lack of leadership during a national emergency.

    Instead we have pics of a cheery Albo at the supermarket buying a few treats for the firies.


  29. Kurt @ 8*13 –. I agree. In reality it may often be a tactical disadvantage but a crucial part of the progressive left mindset is to always recognise / consider others and their viewpoints. That is something the right does not do or value much. It’s not a level playing field .it’s hard to negotiate with cheats .

  30. Kurt – I disagree
    I am yet to met a climate denialist that is worth discussing climate change with. Maybe they can contribute something on other topics, but there is enough thorough analysis of the tactics, fallacies and outright lies peddled by climate denialists to make any further discussion pointless. Nothing further can be learned. They are not even evolving new arguments or tactics and anyone who is still forcefully denying climate change is doing so in the face of overwhelming research. Unless they do some research of their own and publish it they are irrelevant. I for one would be delighted to hear that the world’s scientists had been convinced we are not heading for a less habitable climate.

  31. Suburbanite,
    The thing is you do not have to discuss climate change with them. You are allowed to ignore their climate change denial comments. To me it is a simple matter of politness. How would you like banned from a conservative website for promoting something that tabu in conservative circles? Of course as sunshine said conservatives are cheaters. They will not likely follow a good example because that could lead to their defeat. So they will bann people anyways.
    But just because conservatives are not concerned about suffering from a hardening of the intellectual arteries does not mean it is something that non conservatives should be unconcerned about.
    Thank you both for reading my comment(s).

  32. I wonder if Sydney’s ever more extravagant New Year’s fireworks will be cancelled this year because they would exacerbate the existing smoke haze pollution. They should be cancelled. All kinds of over-consumption, including the Christmas and New Year festivals, need to be toned down.These sorts of over-indulgences are playing a role in wrecking the planet. If we don’t voluntarily curb our over-consumption, nature will do it for us and this natural control of feckless humans will be very harsh.

  33. @Curt The user concerned was banned for other reasons, and returned using a pseudonym. But long experience shows that engaging with deniers is a complete waste of time.

  34. @JQ
    One doesn’t have to go further than the drivel that Michael Pence McCormack utters without any form of reality, doing”more” about climate change but accelerating the burning of sequestered carbon by burning coal and gas. This gormless stupidity is reflected in his obsession with horse shit.
    The Neoliberal Right politicised Global Warming, time to strike back. Banning lies is a good place to start.

  35. J.Q.,

    I agree. Removing deluded persons from sensible discussions is sadly necessary. This is especially the case when florid delusion is combined with narcissism and general contempt for not just opponents but almost all other people including any slavish followers they might gather. Donald Trump comes to mind as such a personality. The psychology of science deniers, AGW deniers, propertarians and the far right in general is interesting and instructive. Contempt for other people and a lack of any empathy for their suffering is a key feature in such personalities. It seems to go well beyond mere callous disregard in some cases and into masochistic delight in inflicting humiliation and suffering on others.

    I tend to the belief that such people really cannot help themselves. They are built that way genetically and/or by nurture. Sometimes regress to such behaviors also proceeds from a physical pathology including a neuropathology. Such people need help and treatment. However, indulging them and over-tolerating them just leads to enabling their behaviors. Harm to others and obstruction to the rational debates of reasonable people searching for answers are not acceptable outcomes. Giving obstructive and saboteurs any power or influence in society is certainly a big mistake.

    Deniers are free to start their own blogs or blog in denialist echo chambers.

  36. Re being nice to the Right or that collection of individuals, nihilists, quasi fascists or whatever they can be sorted under, read Greg Jericho’s op-piece in todays Guardian or James Meeks article in the LRB regarding the propagation of lies on electronic media. Be nice, all good here?

  37. The CO2 graph that goes back to 1900 is also fake news. They essentially just made up the first part of the graph. Its not based on anything. The information since mid-century seems reasonable but the first half of the graph is clearly a fantasy graph. Its only the public service. They are not scientists they are just public servants.

  38. JE = SG = GB is an obnoxious guest who will not respect the host’s rules. I’ve noticed that those who do not respect other people do not respect real facts either. It goes hand in hand. Basically, he is trespassing now and delighting in being an obnoxious troll. Only someone whose real life is very woeful would even bother to do that.

  39. A deniable suggestion;

    Maybe JQ could set up a denialism page, and post all comments deemed denialist to that page with a note in comment such as;
    “Denied – see Denialist page” and link.

    Shouting at clouds is no fun if you are left with your own shout.

    The denialist page will become a mini reversal of the denialists tropes and be able to ne debunked one a month. A service for all.

    If “Jeremy Clarkson finally recognises climate crisis during Asia trip” can manage to change his mind ( he has OPINIONS! ) , then even desert loving trees could switch habiitats.

    As Ikonoclast keeps reminding us, it took a known system to show severe change before he was moved to change. He needed ““graphic demonstration” of global warming”. Disappointing yet human nature on full display.

    “The irony is not lost on me,” he told the Sunday Times. “A man who hosted a car programme for 30 years, limited to 7mph by global warming.”

    “He described enduring “two days of absolute frustration” as the group had to be towed through the river, which had been reduced to a “puddle”. ”

    “The former Top Gear host confessed he found the “graphic demonstration” of global warming “genuinely alarming”.

    Though Jemermy is still Jeremy;
    “However, Clarkson does not appear to have yet embraced the green movement he once dismissed as “eco-mentalists”. “But we don’t blame mankind for it,” he said. “We’ll let Greta [Thunberg] do that.”

    “He took yet another dig at the 16-year-old Swedish campaigner in his interview, …”

    “Grand Tour host says impact of global heating on lake bed in Cambodia was ‘genuinely alarming’ ”

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