Phil Coorey in the Australian Financial Review
put it pretty well: “Apart from the United States, it is hard to think of any other educated country where this argument would be raging, let alone one as dumb and nasty as this one.”
Coorey was of course referring to the past week of invective, disingenuousness and outright bullsh*t coming from conservative governments and their media enablers in reaction to people daring to suggest that the horrific bushfires currently laying waste to vast swathes
of the country might – just possibly – be linked to climate change.
The relentlessness and aggression with which the Morrison government has countered any attempt by journalists, the Greens, former fire bosses
, activists and concerned citizens to link the early onset and severity of this year’s bushfire season with the changing climate has been startling.
As Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper
has eloquently laid out
, the Coalition has taken a page straight from the National Rifle Association in their handling of this. Just like in the US, when discussing the availability of guns in the wake of a mass shooting is posited by the NRA and conservatives as “politicising” a tragedy, Morrison and co have deemed any question about climate change’s connection to increased fire risk as being inappropriate at this moment.
Now, apparently, is not the time. Now, in the thick of the fires, when the full destructive force of an environment catastrophically out of balance is on display, now is not the right time to discuss the reasons why these things are happening.
We’ll do that later. Afterwards. In future. When things have died down.
Going on the attack
Having established that now is most definitely not the time for politicising and finger-pointing, the Coalition then set about doing just that.
Leading the charge was Nationals leader and deputy PM Michael McCormack
who helpfully pointed out that Australia has had fires “since time began” and labelled “pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies” as “disgraceful” and “disgusting”.
Former Nationals leader and human gaff-generator Barnaby Joyce backed up his boss. First he repeated the oft-used (and factually incorrect
) right-wing talking point that the Greens – who have never been in government anywhere in Australia – are actually to blame for the fires because of their “policies” on backburning.
He followed that up with the frankly weird comment
that two victims of the fires were “most likely” Greens voters, and then rounded off a smashing week of stupidity by linking the extreme fires to the sun’s magnetic fields
All of this deflection, invention and fantasy is employed in the service of preventing us talking about the one thing we can’t talk about: that this government has been captured by fossil fuel extremists intent on keeping the coal train rolling until it crashes into the scorched rubble of a dead planet.
Interviewed by The New York Times
last week, Griffith Law School associate professor Susan Harris Rimmer put it pretty starkly
: “We still don’t have an energy policy, we don’t have effective climate policy – it’s really very depressing.
“Coal is our NRA.”
And while the Coalition remains shtum on the reality unfolding before us they, and some state governments, are also doing their best to stop the rest of us doing or saying anything about it too. Consider the proposed bans
on “indulgent and selfish” secondary boycotts; the anti-protest laws
designed to stifle fossil fuel demonstrations in Queensland; and new laws
in New South Wales to stop planning authorities considering the climate impact of exported Australian coal when ruling on mining projects.
All of which comes in a climate of fear where whistleblowers are afraid to speak up and journalists face the threat of prosecution for doing their jobs.
This is what it looks like when capital is under siege. And it’s not going down without a fight.
The history of climate police in Australia doesn’t make for pretty reading, and there remains a lot of tension between Labor and the Greens on just who should wear the blame for the emissions trading failures of the Rudd and Gillard governments. Paddy Manning
has the answer.