Showing posts with label lies and lying. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lies and lying. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 August 2020

How can you tell when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is spinning voters a line? He opens his mouth and speaks. How do you know when his decision is flawed? He announces it with a flourish.

It's hard to understand why Scott Morrison chooses to lie so often when he must know how easily he is caught out.

It is easier to understand why he is so frequently attracted to dubious characters - he is the type of overly confident self-important man who is often identified by such individuals as an easy 'mark'.

On the morning of Wednesday 19 August 2020……

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, media release, 19 August 2020:

Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca.

Under the deal, every single Australian will be able to receive the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for free, should trials prove successful, safe and effective…..

Scotty From Marketing played dress-ups to make his vaccine announcement
Mask & full lab coat
IMAGE: ABC News, 20 August 2020

, 19 August 2020:

Australians are a step closer to accessing a coronavirus vaccine for free, after the Federal Government secured a major international deal to produce a vaccine frontrunner locally, should trials succeed.

Amid rising pressure to lock in supply of a coronavirus vaccine, the Government has signed an agreement with UK-based drug company AstraZeneca to secure the potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University, if its trials prove successful.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said if the vaccine succeeded, the Government would manufacture it immediately and make it free for all Australians.

"The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in the world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian," he said……

In the evening of Wednesday 19 August 2020….

The Daily Telegraph, 19 August 2020: 

"Drug company AstraZeneca says Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s claim he has reached a deal to secure 25 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine is not true."

Then there is the pharmaceutical company Morrison named....

Corporate Research Project, 4 February 2017:

London-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is the result of the 1999 merger of Britain’s Zeneca, a spinoff of the old Imperial Chemical Industries specializing in cancer medications, and Sweden’s Astra AB, which was best known for the ulcer and heartburn medication Prilosec. Since that deal, the combined company has been embroiled in numerous controversies over illegal marketing, product safety, anticompetitive behavior and tax avoidance. 

Advertising and Marketing Controversies 

In 2003 federal officials announced that AstraZeneca had pleaded guilty to criminal and civil charges relating to the illegal marketing of the prostate cancer drug Zoladex. The company agreed to pay $355 million, consisting of $64 million in criminal fines, a $266 million settlement of civil False Claims Act charges, and a $25 million settlement of fraud charges relating to state Medicaid programs. AstraZeneca, which agreed to enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had been accused of giving illegal financial inducements such as grants and honoraria to physicians.

In 2004 a coalition of consumer groups filed suit against AstraZeneca in a California state court, arguing that advertising for the company’s acid reflux drug Nexium misled consumers into thinking that it was superior to AstraZeneca’s Prilosec. The company had introduced Nexium to replace Prilosec as the latter drug was losing its patent protection. The case, along with a related one filed in Massachusetts, is pending

Also in 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that AstraZeneca’s full-page newspaper advertisements defending the safety of its Crestor cholesterol medication were “false and misleading.” The warning letter sent by the agency to AstraZeneca took issue not only with what the company said about the drug but also the way it represented the FDA’s position on Crestor. 

In 2010 the U.S. Justice Department announced that AstraZeneca would pay $520 million to resolve allegations that it illegally marketed its anti-psychotic drug Seroquel for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA. Under the terms of the settlement, $302 million of the total was to go to the federal government and $218 million to state Medicaid programs. Among other things, the company was accused of having paid doctors to give speeches and publish articles (ghostwritten by the company) promoting those unapproved uses. AstraZeneca agreed to sign a corporate integrity agreement regarding its future behavior. In 2011 AstraZeneca settled a related Seroquel case brought by state governments by agreeing to pay another $69 million. 

Product Safety 

In 2002 AstraZeneca said it would put a more conspicuous warning label on its lung cancer drug Iressa after several patients in Japan suffered pneumonia and some died. 

In 2003 researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago released the results of research concluding that AstraZeneca’s Seroquel and two other schizophrenia drugs made by other companies created an elevated risk for diabetes. Subsequently, more than 25,000 lawsuits were filed against the company. In 2010 the company said it would pay a total of $198 million to settle those cases. That same year, the UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority found that AstraZeneca had failed to adequately describe the risks of Seroquel in an advertisement for the drug in a medical journal. 

In 2004 the watchdog group Public Citizen urged the federal government to ban AstraZeneca’s new cholesterol drug Crestor because of evidence linking it to the life-threatening muscle condition rhabdomyolysis. Noting that the company had not submitted timely reports to the FDA on some two dozen serious adverse reactions to Crestor, Public Citizen also called for a criminal investigation of the company. A 2005 study performed at Tufts University found that Crestor users had more serious side effects than those taking other cholesterol drugs. 

Also in 2004, an FDA review of AstraZeneca’s new blood thinner Exanta questioned the safety and effectiveness of the drug.

Pricing and Anticompetitive Behavior

......In 2003 the European Commission accused AstraZeneca of misusing patent rules to shield its ulcer drug Losec (Prilosec in the United States) from generic competitors. The company was charged with having misstated the year the drug was introduced in order to make it eligible for an extension of its exclusivity rights. In 2005 the commission fined AstraZeneca 60 million euros, a penalty which was upheld by the European Court of Justice in 2012.

In 2007 a federal judge ruled in a national class action case that AstraZeneca and two other companies had to pay damages in connection with overcharging Medicare and private insurance companies. The judge singled out AstraZeneca for acting “unfairly and deceptively” in its pricing of prostate cancer drug Zoladex. AstraZeneca was later hit with a $12.9 million judgment. In 2010 AstraZeneca agreed to pay $103 million to settle a national lawsuit accusing the company of overcharging for Zoladex and Pulmicort Respules asthma medication.

In 2009 AstraZeneca was one of four drug companies that entered into a settlement agreement under which they agreed to pay a total of $124 million to settle charges that they violated the federal False Claims Act by failing to provide required rebates to state Medicaid programs. AstraZeneca’s share of the total settlement amount was $2.6 million.....

Read the full history of this company's behaviour here.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

With barefaced lying becoming more commonplace in Murdoch & Nine newspapers, perhaps it's time that Australians consider the Liverpool solution?

The Sun (U.K.) first published in 1965 is owned by News Group Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

For the last 31 years the people of Liverpool in England have boycotted this newspaper because of its barefaced lying about the events of one single day.

In 2016 even some Liverpool taxis carried the boycott message.

The Echo, 19 September 2016
This boycott is said to have markedly affected sales of this newspaper up to the present day.

The boycott is still being regularly reported. 

In November 2019 two academics from Department of Government, London School of Economics & Political Science & Department of Political Science, University of Zurich published a study which suggests the the number of Liverpudlians who did not vote for Brexit was possibly increased in number by the fact that The Sun was not read it that city.

Given how loose-with-the-truth News Corp Australia journalism in particular becomes during election years, perhaps it is time rural and regional communities considered whether they too might like to drive a newspaper such as The Australian or The Daily Telegraph out of their towns and villages.

It is painfully obvious that The Daily Telegraph hopes to step into the print space left vacant after News Corp banished the Clarence Valley's 161 year old The Daily Examiner to a digital website.

I imagine its editor is also hoping to pick up readers in other regional areas along the NSW coast.


The Overtake. 19 July 2018:

After the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in overcrowding, the Murdoch-owned newspaper printed pages of false claims that not only blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster, but accused them of urinating on police officers and other fans, beating up officers attempting CPR, and pickpocketing the dead. 

These reports have since all been proven as fabrication

The effect that the disaster had on the people of Liverpool is huge, not least for those who attended the match, but also those who lost friends and family. 

The saddest of these is Stephen Whittle, known as the 97th victim of Hillsborough. Whittle had work commitments and therefore sold his matchday ticket to a friend, who tragically died there. 

In 2011 Whittle took his own life, with the coroner citing depression and likely survivor’s guilt caused by the events of Hillsborough. Whittle left £61,000 to the families of those who died at Hillsborough. 

In the aftermath of Hillsborough, the city of Liverpool came together to stand up to the figures of authority who were lying to their faces.....

The truth eventually became official record 27 years after Hillsborough, when a jury exonerated the fans of any wrongdoing, and condemned the police present at the match of unlawful killing by gross negligence. 

However, there is still a way to go before the people of Liverpool will consider justice served, as many of the police officers still await trial, and many who attacked Liverpool supporters, including The Sun and Boris Johnson, have only felt repercussions from the fans themselves....

Communities in Liverpool have truly come together and forced a decline in the newspaper’s readership and therefore local sales figures. It makes a lot of sense that both Liverpool and Everton football clubs have banned The Sun’s reporters from press conferences at their stadiums, but the real power of the people is shown by the actions of national companies. 

The fact that supermarkets such as Tesco, which stopped stocking the paper purely due to a lack of demand rather than any political or moral affiliations, say it isn’t worth selling the paper, shows the power of the city and its people.....

The boycott in Liverpool occasionally extends further than Merseyside, usually with travelling Scousers, and is now reaching further with the use of Twitter through accounts such as Total eclipse of the S*n and people encouraging others to hide copies of The Sun when they see it on sale.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

"An infamous federal government bureaucrat at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in the ABC’s history – a fraudulent story which sparked the multi-billion dollar Northern Territory intervention – has been promoted to serve as Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana."

New Matilda, 28 June 2020:

An infamous federal government bureaucrat at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in the ABC’s history – a fraudulent story which sparked the multi-billion dollar Northern Territory intervention – has been promoted to serve as Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana.

Gregory Andrews was working as a senior adviser to Indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough in 2006 when he appeared as the star witness in an ABC Lateline story which falsely described him as an ‘anonymous youth worker’.
Andrews – whose face was filmed in shadow and his voice digitized to hide his identity – wept openly on camera as he described how, in the mid-2000s, he reported incidents of sexual violence against women and children in Mutitjulu to police, but withdrew his statements after being threatened by powerful men in the community.
It subsequently emerged the entire story was a fiction – Andrews had never made a single report of violence against women or children to police.
Andrews was also forced to apologise to the Federal Senate for providing misleading testimony, and later became the first public servant in history to avoid appearing before a Senate Inquiry on the grounds of stress.
The day after the ABC story was broadcast, the Northern Territory government announced a high-level inquiry into the claims. Almost a year later, the resulting reporting – Little Children Are Sacred – was used by the Howard Government as the basis for launching the Northern Territory intervention.

Infamous Canberra bureaucrat, Gregory Andrews, pictured in 2017.

Reporting by Fairfax revealed that shortly before Prime Minister John Howard announced the NT intervention, it received a report from Liberal Party polling firm Crosby Textor advising it that its best chance of winning the 2007 election was to intervene in the affairs of the state and territory governments, to try and make them look incompetent (all state and territory governments at the time were controlled by Labor).
The strategy failed – the Howard government lost the election, with former Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer lamenting afterwards that despite the loss, the policy proved popular with Australian voters.
Andrews worked in the community of Mutitjulu for a short period in 2005 as a project manager for the Northern Territory government. He subsequently joined the Department of Families and Community Services, Housing and Indigenous Affairs, and was providing advice directly to Minister Brough when the ABC falsely described him as an ‘anonymous youth worker’.
Talking points which had been prepared by Andrews for the minister prior to his appearance on Lateline were subsequently leaked – they revealed that once Andrews was provided anonymity by Lateline, he grossly embellished his story.
Andrews claimed children were being traded between Aboriginal communities in Central Australia as “sex slaves”. A lengthy investigation by Northern Territory police found “no evidence whatsoever” to support the claims. An Australian Crime Commission investigation also found the allegations to be false.....
Read the full article here.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Donald Trump's manipulation of social media reaches dangerous heights

There was no CNN footage showing an African-American child running away from a 'white' child as purportedly shown in this Donald Trump tweet. 

From start to finish the video in this particular tweet has first been manipulated to distort and then later truncated without the original crediting source.

Twitter labelled this "Manipulated media" with the explanation:
- In September 2019, CNN reported on a viral video about a friendship between two toddlers
- On Thursday, the president shared a version of the video which many journalists confirmed was edited and doctored with a fake CNN chryon.

A parent of one of the then toddlers seen in the Trump-manipulated home video has since forced Twitter and Facebook to completely remove this video.

As Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison almost slavishly follows Trump's election campaign playbook, Australian voters can expect similar Goebbels-like manipulation of images and videos over the next 14 to 27 months, as the milestone for the last possible date for the next federal general election of the House of Represenatives & half of the Senate arrives.

Friday, 5 June 2020

When will Liberal Party politicians remember that they are so easily fact checked?

Actually the origins of the G7 were established during 15-17 November 1975 as the Group of Six - about 38 days before Sharma was born. 

Sharma was around 351 days old when Canada joined this group and it became the Group of Seven (G7). 

At that time Dave Sharma was still in nappies and his vocabulary was probably confined to simple versions of 'mum' and 'dad'. 

He would have recognised his own name but definitely wan't reading the morning newsaper or watching the evening news.

The man's a fool.

Where does the Liberal Pary dredge such people up?

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Finally Twitter starts to fact check Donald Trump with a live link below two tweets. Trump responds by threatening to create a punitive executive order if any social media platform dares to fact check his egregious lies. Then Trump is faced with the reality of the Internet

This is a snapshot of a May 2020 tweet posted by Donald J. Trump on a Twitter account he created in March 2009, seven years before he received the Republican Party presidential nomination which eventually saw him elected 45th President of the United States of America in November 2016.

It is one of only two Trump tweets under which social media platforn Twitter inserted a low key active 'fact check' link.

Trump's reaction was to threaten to create an executive order designed to punish any social media platform, website or search engine which factchecks the est. 16,000 egregious lies he has told in the last four years.

A draft of this six-page executive order has been released.

This draft executive order describes fact checking or the removal of inappropriate content under terms of service as "selective censorship". 

It also seeks to establish a right of the Trump Administration to monitor and create watch lists of those fact checking conservative politicians or using/interacting with any general search engine, social media platform or individual account (by way of likes, follows, time spent) allegedly employing this "selective censorship" and, to monitor all other online activities of such people.

On 28 May 2020 the White House press Public Pool noted that an executive order had apparently been signed*:

From: Thomas Howell 
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2020 4:01 PM 
Subject: In-town #14 — EO signing remarks 

Trump is at his desk in Oval for EO signing ...Bill Barr is here 
“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers,” referring to tech ‘monopoly’ 
Says “They’ve had unchecked power” to censor and restrict human interaction “We cant allow that to happen” 
He says these tech companies have “points of view“ 
Sees bipartisanship, says Democrats are saying ‘this is about time something is done’ 

Says Twitter is acting as an editor ‘with a viewpoint’ 
Complains about fact check, calls it ‘political activism’ 
Says tech platforms have more reach than newspapers and other media 
Notes Twitter et al get liability shield based on neutral platform 
EO would 
-Looks to regulate Section 230 to remove liability shield if companies act to censure or edit content 
-Says AG Barr will work with states on own regs
- will Develop policies to make sure tax dollars don't go to companies that suppress free speech 

Trump predicts lawsuit, wants legislation though 
‘We’re fed up with it’ 
Asked why not delete his account, Trump says: 
‘The news is fake’ 
‘If we had fair press in this country I would do that in a heartbeat’ 

Barr says tech companies are acting as ‘publishers’ after amassing huge power Says EO would return section 230 to intended scope 
Will draft legislation for Congress 
‘A bit of a bait and switch that’s occurred in our society”
Referring to networks that were supposed to be free forums, but now flexing power 

Tom Howell Jr. White House correspondent 
The Washington Times 240-xxx-xxxx (mobile)

Donald Trump - lacking insight or adequate impluse control - then upped the ante on 29 May 2020 with another two tweets. The second of which threatened use of lethal force against U.S. citizens. 

This caused Twitter to restrict viewing so that a reader had to make a concious decision to look at that particular tweet by clicking on "View":

At 10:17pm on Friday 29 May 2020 an official White House Twitter account @WhiteHouse retweeted Trump's tweet which threatened lethal force and Twitter restricted viewing on the retweet as well.

What is happening here?

A social media company hosting realtime micro-blogging is firmly insisting that it has a right to enforce its rules of service on all 45 million of its accounts world-wide without fear or favour.

Trump may be finally crossing the social media Rubicon and is now fated to metaphorically die in a few inches of muddy river water before reaching the other shore.

* Final text of Executive Order signed on 28 May 2020 not yet released

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Quotes of the Week

"Most politicians lie whenever they are uncomfortable or caught in a tight spot. Few lie with the ease and casualness of Morrison." [Journalist Dennis Atkins writing in The New Daily, 16 May 2020]

"USA started out by electing a reality tv show host to run it and now we are all on Survivor." [G. Dixon, Twitter, 19 May 2020] 

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Morrison Government's new virus contact tracing app

On the evening of Sunday 26 April 2020 the Morrison Coalition Government released its COVID-19 contact tracing app "COVIDSafe" for download and installation on mobile phones by the Australia public.

The stated intention for the release of this app is to widely surveil the Australian population with the aim of tracing persons who have been in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

This release did not come after the promised full disclosure of the app source code. Indeed this source code if or when it is finally released will be a redacted version.

It did not come backed by a full legislative framework which had been scrutinised by the Australian Parliament. 

It came with a ministerial determination which had been published at one minute before midnight on Saturday 25 April 2020 and a one page website containing two download links, a link to "Privacy policy" and another to "Help topics".

It also came after the unannounced release of the promised Privacy Impact Assessment sometime on 25 April 2020.

Despite being assured that no federal agency can access data collected by COVIDSafe, one federal agency the Digital Transformation Agency has official permission to access data in certain situations.

To effectively use the app on a mobile phone Bluetooth has to be activated and some phones will be required to run the app in the foreground, others may find it can be run in the background. Recharging may have to happen more often and some existing phone functions may not always perform well.

Every mobile phone user with this app "will receive daily notifications to ensure the COVIDSafe app is running".

Once installed the app can be automatically updated (including with additional app functions) without notification to the user, unless automatic updates have been blocked on Google Play or Apple App Store.

It is up to each citizen and permanent resident to make their own decision concerning the downloading of this app as use of the app is voluntary.


Despite the Morrison Government insisting that "the COVIDSafe app does not collect your location", according to Google Play this app has GPS and network based functions so a mobile phone's precise location can be identified.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Tweet of the Week

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Houston we have a problem - our prime minister is a compulsive political liar


"Journalist: It was reported in the Wall Street Journal that an invitation was sought to the White House for Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston who’s a friend of yours and that was not backed? Can you tell us what happened there?
PM: I don’t comment on gossip.
J: So it’s not true?
J: Did you actually put a request in for him to…
PM: I don’t comment on gossip or stories about other stories.
J: Does that mean it’s not true though?
PM: It means it’s gossip.
J: But it…
PM: It means it’s gossip.
J: But not true?
PM: I’ve answered the question.
J: True or not true?" [Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refusing to admit he had requested that the White House invite his 'mentor' & paedophile protector, Brian Houston, to an official dinner, The Guardian, 24 November 2019

ABC TV "7.30", 4 March 2020:

LEIGH SALES: You won't release the Gaetjens report into the sports rorts. Your office tried to conceal when you were on holidays in Hawaii in December.
The Government cited national security to avoid answering a question under FOI about whether Pastor Brian Houston was invited to a White House dinner although you have finally admitted this afternoon that he was invited.
Why all the secrecy on stuff that, on the surface, would seem to be not that big a deal?
SCOTT MORRISON: Those things aren't that big a deal that you have talked about, Leigh.
LEIGH SALES: But why the secrecy then?
SCOTT MORRISON: Leigh, I am just focused on the things that I took to the Australian people.
LEIGH SALES: I just want to know why the secrecy. You are not answering what I am asking.
SCOTT MORRISON: Leigh, well, I have disclosed the issues that you have referred to.
So, I mean, in relation to one of those matters I mean, I could have been more candid at the time about it. I wish I was but frankly it wasn't a big deal.
LEIGH SALES: But go back to the trust question. You want Australians to trust you. Does this excessive secrecy help that?
SCOTT MORRISON: I don't accept the assertion you are putting to me, Leigh. I mean you are making accusations.......
LEIGH SALES: Well, what about the Brian Houston thing. Why did you keep that a secret?
SCOTT MORRISON: Well, Leigh, at the time I was in the United States. We had had a very important meeting with the President of the United States. It was not a matter I was intending to be distracted by.
And look, at the time, I could have answered the question differently. I have been up front about that but honestly, at the end of the day, it was not a significant matter and people haven't asked me about it for months and months and months.
A journalist asked me about it today and I just answered it straight up.
LEIGH SALES: But the only reason I am asking about it, because it is a minor matter, is because of the secrecy around it.
I mean, there was an FOI request put in about it that came back and said that the information couldn't be disclosed because it would jeopardise Australia's relationship with the United States.....

The Australian, 4 March 2020:

Houston, we have a problem
This wasn’t a major issue when it was first raised. So why did it take PM so long to come clean on White House invitation for Hillsong’s Brian Houston? 

The Daily Telegraph4 March 2020, p.1O:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed he lobbied for Hillsong founder Brian Houston to be invited to a White House dinner as part of his state visit last year.
Mr Morrison previously dismissed the claim as gossip but yesterday revealed to 2GB’s Ben Fordham he requested the White House include him on the guest list.
“We put forward a number of names, that included Brian. But, not everybody whose name was put forward was invited,” Mr Morrison said.

Seems that like lying about whether he was in Hawaii on holiday or in Australia while mega bushfires raged, Scott Morrison is also sensitive about his continuing association with a man reportedly under investigation by the NSW Police in relation to his alleged coverup of child abuse perpetrated by his father.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

This is how the world sees Australia and Australians in January 2020

A British perspective.....

"..the boys from the Morrison campaign were the Neville Chamberlains of Australian politics who had convinced Australians to ignore the greatest threat to their nation’s security" [TheObserver columnist Nick Cohen writing in The Guardian, 5 January 2020]

The Guardian, 5 January 2020:

There are worse leaders than Scott Morrison. The “international community” includes torturers, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers 

and kleptomaniacs beside whom he seems almost benign. But no 
leader in the world is more abject than the prime minister of Australia.

He cuts a pathetic figure. A leader must speak honestly to his people in a crisis.The sly tactics of climate change denial, the false consoling words that it’s a scare and we can carry on as before, have left Morrison’s words as meaningless as a hum in the background. Nothing he says is worth hearing.

Australian English is rich in its descriptions of worthless men: as useful as tits on a bull, a dry thunderstorm, a third armpit, a glass door on a dunny, a pocket on a singlet, an ashtray on a motorbike, a submarine with screen doors, a roo-bar on a skateboard. Morrison is all of the above, but a British saying sums him up: “too clever by half”. Morrison won last year’s Australian general election, although his conservative Liberal party was expected to lose, by slyly mobilising opinion against tax rises in general and environmental taxes in particular.

The climate change denialism he espoused is a moving target. In the 1990s, lobbyists funded by the oil industry acted as if the overwhelming majority of scientists who understood the subject were in a conspiracy against the public. They accused the authors of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports of being guilty of a “major deception” when they discussed the human influence on climate. Many still hold to the original sin of this denialism.

Even as Australia burned last week, Tony Abbott, Morrison’s conservative predecessor, was still saying the world was “in the grip of a climate cult”. Abbott proved he was willing to make others suffer for his wilfully ignorant belief by scrapping a carbon tax when he was in power in Australia in 2014. A fallback position is emerging. It accepts that manmade climate change is real but withdraws the concession as soon as it has been made and loses it in an obfuscatory smoke.

The final fallback and the final degradation will come, I predict, in the mid-2020s when the right abandons denialism completely, admits that climate change is catastrophic, but adds it’s far too late to do anything about it, which it may well be.

Scott Morrison is hunkered down in stage two. He grudgingly acknowledges the existence of man-made climate change but hurriedly adds that other causes are at work. The climate has always changed and it’s not worth bearing the costs of challenging a polluting culture. It worked in last year’s elections, but sounds absurd today.

“By not recognising climate change as a serious threat you fail to prepare overworked, underappreciated first responders for larger, more frequent bushfires that devastate communities,” said one previously solid Morrison voter, after he had learned the truth about conservatism as his family waited to be evacuated from a New South Wales beach.

Despite its failure, perhaps because of its failures, the do-nothing Australian right remains admired across the conservative world. The 2019 election was meant to be a climate change election about the killing of the Great Barrier Reef, the extreme drought and average summer temperatures across the continent hitting 40C. Yet Morrison and his campaign team managed to turn it into an election about the Australian Labor party’s tax plans.

So impressed was Boris Johnson that he hired Morrison’s boys to win the British general election. Fawning coverage followed of the digital “whiz-kids” from New Zealand: Sean Topham, 28, and Ben Guerin, 24. In Australia, the hotshots refined their technique of dumping hundreds of crude variations on the same theme on social media. They described how Labor would raise taxes and warned that a proposal to encourage electric cars threatened motorists. Labor wanted to hit “Australians who love being out there in their four-wheel drives”, said Morrison, as his propagandists targeted ads at owners of Ford Rangers, Toyota Hilux and every other popular model, saying that Labor would increase the price of “Australia’s most popular cars”. In Britain, the same team banged home the crude message in a thousand different ways that Johnson would “get Brexit done”.

Politicians and political journalists who eulogise the cunning of clever operators aren’t being wholly asinine. How a party wins a campaign remains a matter of importance. But not one of them added, after the praise for the wise guys and whiz-kids had ended, that the boys from the Morrison campaign were the Neville Chamberlains of Australian politics who had convinced Australians to ignore the greatest threat to their nation’s security. It’s as if crime writers spent their time detailing the cunning of criminals while never mentioning the victims left bleeding on the floor.......

Read the full article here.

An American perspective.....

"Perhaps more than any other wealthy nation on Earth, Australia is at risk from the dangers of climate change. It has spent most of the 21st century in a historic drought. Its tropical oceans are more endangered than any other biome by climate change. Its people are clustered along the temperate and tropical coasts, where rising seas threaten major cities. Those same bands of livable land are the places either now burning or at heightened risk of bushfire in the future." [Journalist Robinson Meyer writing in The Atlantic, 4 January 2020]

The Atlantic, 4 January 2020:

Australia is caught in a climate spiral. For the past few decades, the arid and affluent country of 25 million has padded out its economy—otherwise dominated by sandy beaches and a bustling service sector—by selling coal to the world. As the East Asian economies have grown, Australia has been all too happy to keep their lights on. Exporting food, fiber, and minerals to Asia has helped Australia achieve three decades of nearly relentless growth: Oz has not had a technical recession, defined as two successive quarters of economic contraction, since July 1991.

But now Australia is buckling under the conditions that its fossil fuels have helped bring about. Perhaps the two biggest kinds of climate calamity happening today have begun to afflict the continent.

The first kind of disaster is, of course, the wildfire crisis. In the past three months, bushfires in Australia’s southeast have burned millions of acres, poisoned the air in Sydney and Melbourne, and forced 4,000 tourists and residents in a small beach town, Mallacoota, to congregate on the beach and get evacuated by the navy. A salvo of fires seems to have caught the world’s attention in recent years. But the current Australian season has outdone them all: Over the past six months, Australian fires have burned more than twice the area than was consumed, combined, by California’s 2018 fires and the Amazon’s 2019 fires.

The second is the irreversible scouring of the Earth’s most distinctive ecosystems. In Australia, this phenomenon has come for the country’s natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef. From 2016 to 2018, half of all coral in the reef died, killed by oceanic heat waves that bleached and then essentially starved the symbiotic animals. Because tropical coral reefs take about a decade to recover from such a die-off, and because the relentless pace of climate change means that more heat waves are virtually guaranteed in the 2020s, the reef’s only hope of long-term survival is for humans to virtually halt global warming in the next several decades and then begin to reverse it.

Meeting such a goal will require a revolution in the global energy system—and, above all, a rapid abandonment of coal burning. But there’s the rub. Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal power, and it has avoided recession for the past 27 years in part by selling coal.

Though polls report that most Australians are concerned about climate change, the country’s government has so far been unable to pass pretty much any climate policy. Infact, one of its recent political crises—the ousting of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the summer of 2018—was prompted by Turnbull’s attempt to pass an energy bill that included climate policy. Its current prime minister, Scott Morrison, actually brought a lump of coal to the floor of Parliament several years ago while defending the industry. He won an election last year by depicting climate change as the exclusive concern of educated city-dwellers, and climate policy as a threat to Australians’ cars and trucks. He has so far attempted to portray the wildfires as a crisis, sure, but one in line with previous natural disasters.....

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