Showing posts with label National Party of Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Party of Australia. Show all posts

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Australian Prime Minister Morrison gives full amnesty to employers who have stolen all or part of their employees superannuation


Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), media release, 24 February 2020: 

With daily revelations of wage theft dominating the start of the new parliamentary year, the Morrison Government has today passed a bill which will waive penalties for employers who have stolen superannuation from workers. 

The bill protects employers from prosecution by the ATO for any theft of superannuation back to the birth of the system, regardless of the size of the theft or the intent of the employer. 

This is an unprecedented move by a federal government – blanket pardoning of a serious contravention of federal law, with no caveats or limits. 

The Government has said publicly that if employers cannot determine the extent of their theft before the end of the amnesty, it will be extended.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil: “We are living through a national crisis of wage theft and superannuation forms a significant part of this issue. Instead of punishing the employers who have been stealing money from their employees, potentially for decades, the Morrison Government has waved them through without any penalty whatsoever. 

“This law will recover a tiny fraction of the billions in super estimated stolen since the beginning of the system and will do nothing to change behaviour in the business community. 

“The Government has had seven years and has done nothing to help workers with unpaid super. Workers need their right to Super included in the National Employment Standards so that repayment can be easily pursued and have super paid at the same time as wages. 

“The best way to stop wage and super theft is to allow unions to once again conduct compliance checks in workplaces to end this epidemic of ripping off workers. 

“This is a shameful act by a Government which it seems will stop at nothing to cater to employers at the expense of working people. 

“The ACTU will continue to explore all available legal avenues to ensure that working people get the money they are owed and that thieves are held accountable for their actions.”

The amount of unpaid super owed to workers in Australia was estimated in 2018 to be at least $5.9 billion and wages theft by employers was thought to total $12.8 billion.

Monday, 24 February 2020

‘Grant from Auditing’ dropped ‘Scotty from Marketing’ right in it and the net result is a strong stench of corruption emanating from the Morrison government


New Matilda, 14 February 2020:

Summer rains finally fell on large parts of New South Wales this week. They didn’t fall everywhere, and much of inland Australia is still in drought, but enough rain fell where it was needed to allow weary fire authorities to announce that the New South Wales bushfires were finally contained.

For different reasons, Scott Morrison has also had a difficult summer, so the Prime Minister would no doubt have been pleased the bushfire emergency he so badly mishandled is now receding. With Parliament back and the serious matter of COVID-19 Coronavirus to attend to, Morrison could be forgiven for thinking that February would be the month where the government could regain the political initiative.

But that’s not happening, because the government finds itself mired in a series of corruption scandals.

The key issue, as it has been for weeks now, is the sports rorts affair. As we now know, roughly $100 million in sports grants were distributed in a completely corrupt manner by former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie before the 2019 federal election.

The scandal blew up after the National Audit Office released a devastating report into the orgy of pork barrelling.

The government’s initial response to the Audit was to try and downplay it: a variation of the classic “nothing to see here, folks” line. Morrison himself argued many times that no rules had been broken and that all the projects funded in McKenzie’s dodgy process were eligible.

That approach proved unsustainable, as the media turned its attention to the grants program and uncovered multiple instances of highly dubious decision-making. Huge grants to fancy rowing clubs in Mosman, grants for female change rooms to clubs with no female players, grants to a shooting club that McKenzie herself was a member of, grants that sporting clubs boasted about before even receiving them – the more journalists dug, the worse things seemed.

The Audit report was always going to be difficult to wriggle away from. The report set down, in black and white, a devastating series of findings about the sports grants program.

An established funding program was subverted by a “parallel process” of political decision making inside McKenzie’s office, quite transparently driven by political interest. Questions were raised about the program’s probity by senior bureaucrats, only to be batted away by McKenzie and her staff. A colour-coded spreadsheet was even drawn up, one that had nothing to do with the merits of the funding applications, and everything to do with the Coalition’s re-election strategy.

As former senior New South Wales judge Stephen Charles QC argued, this was not just ministerial misconduct; it was corruption.

So, after weeks of defending her, Morrison bowed to the inevitable and sacked McKenzie. After a hastily convened investigation by Morrison’s hand-picked Secretary of the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, McKenzie was sent on her way.

On the day he sacked McKenzie, Morrison announced that Gaetjens’ report found that McKenzie had erred, but that the program itself was sound. Exactly how Gaetjens managed to come to that conclusion is something that has puzzled journalists and onlookers. If the program was sound, why was McKenzie sacked for rorting it? And if McKenzie rorted it, how could the program be sound?

Just to make matters more opaque, Gaetjens’ report was never released, with Morrison claiming that it was a cabinet document. He therefore kept it secret. It’s marvellous stuff, this open government business…..

In scathing testimony, Auditor-General Grant Hehir and senior auditor Brian Boyd demolished the government’s position with a few well-chosen lines.

Were all the grants eligible, Senator Eric Abetz asked Boyd? No, answered Boyd.

In fact, as many as 43 per cent were not eligible. Boyd went on to explain why. Some applications were late. Some projects had started their work before they signed the funding agreement. Some had actually finished the work.

As Boyd told the Committee, “If you’ve completed your work, or in some cases — as in this one — you’ve even started your work before a funding agreement is signed, you’re not eligible to receive funding.” Oops.

It got worse. We also found out that the Prime Minister’s office was intimately involved with McKenzie’s office in drawing up the dodgy list of grant recipients. Auditor-General Hehir told Senators there were “direct” communications between Morrison’s office and McKenzie’s, including at least 28 versions of the now-notorious colour-coded spreadsheet that laid out the various sports grants by marginal seat.

The Auditor-General described a process where key advisors from Morrison and McKenzie’s offices haggled over which projects to fund, using the spreadsheet as the basis for their decisions.

To say this looks bad for the Prime Minister is an understatement. He has been caught out in a particularly ham-fisted cover up, one that looks all the more ill-judged now the facts have come to light. Given the level and detail of communication between his office and Bridget McKenzie’s, it’s hard to see how he can plausibly argue he wasn’t privy to the rorts…..

Read the full article here.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Quote of the Week


"Love does no harm to a neighbour,” instructs the Bible, “therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.” The god invoked to oversee the religious discrimination bill avers such radical lefty chat. Instead, Voltaire’s suggestion that “If god [does] not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” describes the Liberals’ preferred “religious” entity with some prescience. It’s a small and petty, vengeful creature that squats in medical trauma and old bigotry, a deity conjured of conservative political resentment, and convenience." [Columnist Vanessa "Van" Badham, writing in The Guardian on 12 February 2020 on the subject of the Morrison Government's Religious Freedom Bills]

Friday, 7 February 2020

Morrison's cabinet reshuffle promotes Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan


Fifty-six year old Kevin John Hogan (left) first became the Nationals MP for Page on the NSW North Coast at the 2013 federal election.

He became the Nationals Whip in February and Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives in March 2018.

In the eight months before the May 2019 federal election, worried he might lose his seat, Hogan briefly pretended to sit on the cross-benches while remaining a member of the parliamentary National Party, Nationals Whip and Deputy Speaker.

Not once it that period did he cast a vote that was not in support of the Coalition's proposed legislation and policy positions - including refusal to genuinely act on climate change mitigation.

Having retained the seat of Page, this week's hurried cabinet reshuffle sees him now adding the title of Assistant Minister to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to his quiverfull of positions.

* Image from the South Coast Register.


Thursday, 6 February 2020

Political Donations 101: cause and effect 2019-2020


THE CAUSE: Reliance on political donations

Individuals and corporations making large or regular political donations are rarely giving money for philanthropic reasons - they usually want something in return.

Sometimes it is access to a prime minister or premier, sometimes access to a particular minister and sometimes it is a barely concealed bribe in order that the donor gets a specific outcome from a particular government.

The Guardian, 3 February 2020:

The Liberal party received $4.1m from a single donor before the 2019 election, one of the largest amounts in political history, dwarfing former leader Malcolm Turnbull’s $1.75m gift before the 2016 election.

The donations, revealed in Australian Electoral Commission disclosures published on Monday, are second only to the $83.3m donated by Mineralogy Pty Ltd to Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

Both major parties also took significant sums of money from the fossil fuel industry, including multinational giant Woodside, something environmentalists say explains government inaction in the “face of a rolling national emergency driven by climate change”.

The $4.1m donated to the federal Liberal party and its state branches was given in multiple instalments by Sugolena Pty Ltd, a company linked to philanthropist Isaac Wakil, who made his fortune in the clothing industry and invested heavily in property, with his wife Susan, around the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont…..


The Liberals declared $22.6m in donations Labor $18.2m. Total receipts, which include all donations regardless of the $13,800 reporting threshold, other payments, returns from financial investments and loans, amounted to $165m for the Liberals and $126m for Labor.

Australia’s weak donation disclosure system continues to mask a huge chunk of political financing. 

Analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity shows that $1bn in party income has not been disclosed between 1999 and the last reporting year, almost 36% of total party financing.

But the disclosures that have been made continue to show the significant influence of the fossil fuel industry in Australian democracy. Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy, which gave $83,681,442 to Palmer’s United Australia Party, was by far the single biggest fossil fuel donor.

An analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation found a further $1.89m in fossil fuel donations to Australian political parties.

This data explains why even in the face of a rolling national emergency driven by climate change and community demands for change, the government continues to defend and promote the industries that are the root cause of the problem,” ACF’s economy and democracy program manager Matt Rose said.

Serious donations reform is needed now to make sure our political system works for the benefit of all Australian, not just those with the biggest wallets.”

The biggest fossil fuel donor to the major parties was Woodside, Australia’s biggest LNG exporter. It gave $135,400 to Labor, $136,750 to the Liberal Party and $11,190 to the Nationals. The gas industry lobby, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), was also a significant donor. [APPEA donated a combined total of $24,990 to the federal Liberal and Nationals parties]

Prime minister Scott Morrison recently identified gas as a key “transition” fuel for Australia’s economy, saying “we need to get the gas from under our feet”. 

He also recently struck a a $2bn deal with the New South Wales government to increase gas supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector…..

The federal Liberal party also declared two donations from Adani Mining Pty Ltd totalling $50,000….. [the Australian Electoral Commission identified a combined total of $97,300 as donations directly from Adani Mining Pty Ltd to the federal Liberal and Nationals parties]

Carmichael Rail Network, another wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Australia, gave $50,000 to the federal Liberal party and $100,000 to the Nationals….. [my red annotations]

THE EFFECT: Requirement to fulfil the terms of the unwritten contract between a political party and its donors

Within the 8 months following the May 2019 federal election the Morrison Government acted to benefit certain of its donors in the gas industry sector.

Santos Limited which had donated a combined total of $42,723 to federal Liberal and Nationals coffers in 2017-18 went on to donate another $78,854 in 2018-19, with this result......

According to Lock The Gate Alliance on 31 January 2020:

The ‘energy deal’ announced today between NSW and Federal Governments looks designed to unleash coal seam gas drilling in north-west NSW, threatening drought-affected farmers and allowing Santos to drain 37 billion litres of groundwater.

Crucially, it will do little to bring down greenhouse gas emissions due to its reliance on dirty, polluting unconventional gas.

Media reports indicate the NSW Government has been compelled by the Commonwealth to make a commitment to supply 70PJ of gas for the east coast market in exchange for up to $2 billion in Federal funding for renewable energy and unquantified reduction incentives.

The volume of gas mentioned in the deal is similar to the amount Santos expects to produce at its proposed water-hungry Narrabri coal seam gasfield.

To facilitate the creation of one or more gasfields in north-west New South Wales the Berejiklian Coalition Government held a second hearing into the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas in NSW on 4 February 2020.

As the Berejiklian Government failed to act on the Chief Scientist's original recommendations, this second hearing was a cause for concern......

Lock The Gate Alliance, 3 February 2020:

CSG hearing round 2 must deliver more than just hot air

The holding of a second hearing into the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas in NSW is evidence the Berejiklian Government is not prepared to deal with the repercussions of the destructive industry, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The hearing, to be held tomorrow, is only happening because the Government was unable to properly answer questions about CSG at the original hearing, held in December last year.

Lock the Gate NSW coordinator Georgina Woods said it was even more crucial than ever now for the Government to answer questions about its forgotten promises on coal seam gas, given the state and federal governments look poised to sacrifice the north west following last week’s energy deal announcement.

It was deeply troubling to watch government representatives scratch their heads when asked basic questions about their oversight of this damaging industry at the last hearing. It demonstrated an alarming lack of attention to the serious risk coal seam gas poses to groundwater in North West NSW,” Ms Woods said.

Last week’s energy deal with Canberra has raised the very real risk that state and federal governments will run roughshod over the facts and heap political pressure on planning authorities to approve Santos’ destructive Narrabri coal seam gas proposal.

This inquiry has shown how unready and unaware the Government is for the environmental, social and economic damage that will inflict.

There is still time to stop Santos’ Narrabri gas project from puncturing holes in a recharge aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin, one of western New South Wales’ most precious groundwater resources. There is still time to make this important area a no-go zone for coal seam gas and safeguard the water resources of north west New South Wales.”

Ms Woods said it was clear from the last hearing that major recommendations made by the Chief Scientist had not been implemented.

The biggest gaps include failure to provide a three-tiered environmental insurance scheme, failure to establish a standing expert committee, and failure to develop systems that can detect cumulative impacts of the industry on precious water resources,” she said.

There are 11 expired and unused legacy coal seam gas licences languishing over the farmland, towns, and precious water resources of the drought-stricken north west that have never been through the Government’s new system for assessing areas for gas exploration.

The NSW Government is leaving farming communities in the north west exposed to unforeseen and irreversible loss or contamination of water resources and other environmental and health impacts from the CSG industry.

We need a reset from the Government that prioritises water security, people, and the needs of future generations and that means stopping the Narrabri gasfield.”

Brisbane Times reported on 3 February 2020 concerning the Adani Group's strategically timed donations:

On April 5, $12,500 was donated to the Liberal Party; that was four days before then-Environment Minister Melissa Price signed off on the groundwater management plans for Adani's central Queensland mine. 

Another $100,000 was donated to both parties in the month after Ms Price gave final federal approvals to the mine.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan appears to have drunk the #ArsonEmergency Conspiracy Kool Aid


In which Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan decides that a fire believed to have started on Friday 4 October 2019 in the Busbys Flat area was deliberately lit.

Pre-empting the results of Strike Force Cleander investigations into that fire of unknown origin. Such fires are as a matter of course treated as suspicious and investigated.

In addition Hogan claims that: "Over 50% of the recent fires burning in New South Wales did not start by natural causes."

Neglecting to point out that most human-induced fire ignitions are not arson but accidental ignitions, often caused by people being reckless in the handling of a small fire but without malicious intent.

From the rather dodgy figures he presents it seems that Hogan is a fan of the Murdoch press.

Myself I prefer to believe not clickbait journalism but an authorities with some gravitas:

According to NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman Ben Shepherd the vast majority of major fires in the state since August 2019 were the result of lightning storms and "The Country Fire Association (CFA) said the majority of fires were not arson-related. "Most of the fires have been caused by lightning," said Brett Mitchell, the CFA incident controller in Bairnsdale, in East Gippsland. "Our intelligence suggests there are no deliberate lightings that we are aware of."

For good measure in his media release the Member for Page also throws in the standard political lies denying the Abbott-Turnbull- Morrison Government's woeful track record on national greenhouse gas emission reduction.
Kevin John Hogan
Reading the media release set out below, one should remember it was written by a member of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government since 2013 - a man who has always voted for every piece of legislation which revoked, dismantled or hobbled pre-September 2013 acts of Parliament which sought to establish a genuine response to climate change.

This is a politician who helped create the conditions which led to the mega fires burning across Australia since the start of the 2019-20 bushfire  season.

And like his political masters he seeks to shift the blame for the almost 5 million hectares ravaged by fire, the thousands of homes destroyed or fire damaged*, the est. billion wildlife killed**, the huge stock losses and a growing roll of the needless early deaths of ordinary people caught in the path of these bushfires.

Kevin Hogan was part of a federal government which did this.....

Financial Review, 11 January 2020:

A federal government plan to prepare for the dire effects of climate change-related natural disasters was left to gather dust in the Department of Home Affairs for 1½ years before catastrophic bushfires hit last month.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework warned the changing climate was exposing the country to natural disasters on ‘‘unimagined scales, in unprecedented combinations and in unexpected locations’’.
It warned more and more people and assets would be exposed to these disasters, with essential services – including power, water, telecommunications and financial services – particularly vulnerable.
‘‘As a result, the cost of disasters is increasing for all sectors of society – governments, industry, business, not-for-profits, communities and individuals,’’ the report warned.
But in the 1½ years since its publication in mid-2018 – weeks before the leadership coup in which then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison – the federal government has taken little tangible action, and has failed to publish the national implementation plan promised for 2019.....

The misleading media release at kevinhogan.com.au, 7 January 2020: 

Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan has today called for tougher penalties for arsonists in the wake of recent bushfires across the country. 

Kevin Hogan said over 180 suspected arsonists have been charged in NSW and QLD over the past 12 months alone. Over 50% of the recent fires burning in NSW did not start by natural causes. 

“The fire that took out Rappville and has caused community and environmental carnage, from New Italy to Woombah and out past Whiporie, was deliberately lit.” 

“While we can do more on hazard reduction burning and are doing more on cutting emissions, if someone deliberately lights a fire on a total fire ban day, people, properties and wildlife are going to be lost,” Kevin Hogan said. 

The NSW Government has set the non-parole time for arson at 9 years. I believe this needs to be at least doubled. The distress and damage done to homes, infrastructure and the environment by these fires demands this. 

“Potential arsonists need to be sent a strong message, that because of the damage they are causing, they will be heavily punished. I will be lobbying my state colleagues on this,” Kevin Hogan said. 

How can you help? If you see something that looks out of place, record the details of vehicles such as the make, model and registration of suspicious vehicles. Also take note of the appearance of anyone acting suspiciously. 

Report suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

 Authorised by Kevin Hogan MP, National Party of Australia, Lismore, NSW
[my yellow highlighting]

Note:

* Latest NSW Infrastructure Impact Assessment as of 10 January 2019

** An estimation drawn up by Australian Academy of Science Fellow, Professor Chris Dickman, which includes. mammals. birds and reptiles but does not include  bats, frogs, insects or other invertebrates.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

State of the Australian economy as it enters 2020


On 16 December 2019 Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, put out a glowing media release concerning the health of the national economy which bears little resemblance to data his own department released on that same day.

Treasury on behalf of the Morrison Coalition Government informed Australia that it now has less income than was anticipated just prior to the 2019 federal election and, that economic growth is now slower.

Total receipts have been revised down by about $3.0 billion in 2019-20 and $32.6 billion over the four years to 2022-23.

These falls are due to less money coming into Treasury from individuals taxes, company tax and superannuation tax, as well as less dollars being collected through the tax on goods & services (GST) and lower non-tax income.

Federal government net debt is expected to be $392.3 billion in 2019-20 (19.5 per cent of GDP). Gross debt now stands at over $560.8 billion.

Slower economic growth is explained as due in part to decreased production and lower export levels in the farming sector, a decline in iron ore prices, softer wages growth, diminished business confidence & investment uncertainty.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) nominal growth is 3.25 per cent but is expected to fall to 2.25 per cent in the coming financial year.

Wages growth is still under performing at 2.5 per cent and, there is no guarantee that the revised projection of 3 per cent wage growth by 2022-23 is achievable.

Unemployment is beginning to rise.

The number of people who had jobs fell by 19,700 individuals between the May federal election and October 2019. Employment numbers are projected to fall over the next 5 years in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing, Manufacturing and Information, Media & Technology.

Cost of living (CPI) is not coming down. CPI rose 1.7 per cent through the year to the September 2019 quarter. This followed a through the year rise of 1.6 per cent to the June 2019 quarter. Retail prices, particularly for clothing, footwear, meat, dairy, bread and cereal products, have risen.

As for the much lauded budget surplus for 2019-20, it has shrunk from $7.1 billion to $5 billion. While the rubbery figures in forward estimates see the expected surplus for 2020-2021 reduced from $11 billion to $6.1 billion, then from $17.8 billion down to $8.2 billion in 2021-22, with the fiscal year after that supposed to bring in a surplus of only $4 billion instead of the projected $9.2 billion.

One can almost hear Morrison ordering a funding red pen through even more health, disability and welfare services/programs in a vain attempt to avoid intensifying the economic squeeze his flawed political ideology is imposing on the nation.

Notes:

* Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg 16 December 2019 media release at 

* Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) December 2019 at https://budget.gov.au/2019-20/content/myefo/download/MYEFO_2019-20.pdf

* Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) April 2019 at https://treasury.gov.au/publication/2019-pefo

* Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) federal government debt updates at https://www.aofm.gov.au/


Labour Market Information Portal, “Industry Projections – 5 years to 2024” (Excel) at http://lmip.gov.au/PortalFile.axd?FieldID=2787734&.xlsx

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Few Liberal-Nationals politicians have ever understood the strength of community in the NSW Northern River region


Few Liberal-Nationals politicians have ever understood the strength of community in the NSW Northern Rivers region or the passion of locals to protect their families, neighbours, the land, rivers, forests and native animals from those who threaten all six. Including those who threaten by refusing to take meaningful action to mitigate climate change.

Here is yet another Northern Rivers resident speaking up.....

The Guardian, 2 December 2019:
Melinda Plesman stands with the remains of her burnt-out house, destroyed in the NSW bushfires, outside Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Melinda Plesman and her partner, Dean Kennedy, lost their family home of 35 years after bushfires tore through Nymboida, south of Grafton in NSW, last month.
Plesman said she wanted to show Scott Morrison the direct result of climate change.
“It’s happening now and this is what climate change looks like,” Plesman said.
“I’m losing my home, whole communities are losing their homes ... and the prime minister said we’re not allowed to talk about it.
“He said he was going to pray for us. And that was the last straw.”.....

Monday, 18 November 2019

With 6 people burnt to death to date during the current NSW 2019 fire season, one reputable Australian journalist pointed the finger squarely at who and what is to blame


TheGuardian, 16 November 2019:

The history of climate policy in Australia is a history of self-interest, posturing and shameful inaction. Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

In a dispiriting political week like the one we’ve just had, it helps to keep things simple. Let’s begin with the organising idea of the week, where various politicians asserted, both in measured ways and unhinged ways, that it was inappropriate to talk about climate change while bushfires ravaged the country.

Let’s be clear about what this line of argument is.

It’s self-serving crap.

It is entirely possible to have a sensible discussion about climate change and the risks it poses, including the risks of longer and more intense fire seasons, and still do all the things that need to be done to protect lives and property.

We have that bandwidth. In fact Australia demonstrated amply over the course of the past few days our collective capacity to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Despite all the finger waggling from politicians, or perhaps because of it, the climate conversation happened in tandem with heroic efforts by emergency services workers to save lives and contain the damage. In fact, the most compelling part of the conversation about bushfires being a symptom of climate change was led by emergency service workers: a coalition of former fire chiefs, who point blank refused various invitations from politicians to shut up.

Given there is no law that says bushfires preclude sensible, evidence-based policy conversations, it’s reasonable to ask why this particular prohibition was asserted.

The answer to that is simple. The Coalition does not want its record raked over at a time when Australians are deeply anxious, because it’s hard to control the narrative in those conditions. The government does not want people who are not particularly engaged in politics, and who make a point of not following Canberra’s periodically rancid policy debates (and climate is the most toxic of the lot), switching on to this issue at a time where they have a personal stake in the conversation.

While Scott Morrison has acknowledged there is a link between climate change and natural disasters, and in attitudinal terms that acknowledgement is a positive development, it’s not really in the prime minister’s interests for anyone to press very assertively on that pressure point, particularly not at a time when the prolonged drought (another symptom of climate change) is already making the Coalition’s supporters restive.

Morrison doesn’t invite the climate action interrogation, because the government’s record is abysmal, and I don’t invoke that word lightly. The Liberal and National parties have done everything within their collective power to frustrate climate action in Australia for more than a decade. The Coalition repealed the carbon price. They attempted to gut the renewable energy target. They imposed fig-leaf policies costing taxpayers billions that have failed to stop emissions rising every quarter.

Lest this wrecking, self-interested, destructive behaviour seem a quirk of history – a quaint vestige of the Abbott era curtailed by the sensible man in the Lodge – be reminded that the Liberals blasted Malcolm Turnbull out of the prime ministership only last August in part for the thought crime of trying to impose a policy mechanism that would have reduced emissions in the electricity sector.

Reflections on a catastrophic week of bushfires

Not content with that, the Coalition, Morrison and his ministers, also claimed during the May election that an emissions reduction target broadly consistent with climate science would be a wrecking ball in the Australian economy. Not content with that, Morrison and his ministers characterised a sensible policy by Labor to try and encourage the electrification of the car fleet to reduce emissions in transport as a “war on the weekend”.

What Australian voters needed after the election in May was a government of whatever stripe prepared to put the country on an orderly path towards decarbonisation.

But what the Coalition needed was different. It wanted to remain in power, and one of the principle means to power it deemed necessary proved to be convincing voters in the outer suburbs and regions that Bill Shorten was crazy and shifty about climate change and would confiscate your ute.

To put this point very starkly, there was a climate election in May, and the climate lost.

I hope it’s clear by now, as a consequence of this heart-warming romp through recent political history, that the arbitrary prohibition of the week – we can’t talk about climate because the country is burning – is about politics, and about self-interest, and not about anything else.

And rather than applying false balance and blaming everyone and declaring the whole business of politics and democracy a debacle, let’s also acknowledge that everyone has certainly stuffed up at one point or another, but one political movement more than any other bears the responsibility for Australia’s failure to get on with the necessary transition to low emissions.

That’s the Liberal and National parties.

Read the full article here.

The dead to date in the 2019 NSW bushfire season

77 year-old man & 68 year-old woman burnt inside their home on Deadman Creek Road in Coongbar, Upper Clarence Valley in October
53 year-old woman burnt in her home at Johns River, north of Taree in November
elderly man found in a burnt out car at Wytaliba, east of Glen Innes in November
68 year-old woman burnt on her property at Wytaliba in November
58 year-old man burnt at the southern end of the Kyuna Track at Willawarrin, 34km west of Kempsey in November