Showing posts with label media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label media. Show all posts

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Climate change denier Ian Plimer in the news again


YouTube GWPF video snapshot
Former mining geologist Ian Plimer (left) is nothing if not persistent. 

North Coast Voices has been noting his biased, inaccurate & frequently irrational opinions since December 2008.


This was the fall-out from one of his articles published nine months ago.

The Guardian, 24 July 2020:

An op-ed by Prof Ian Plimer in the Australian, which was condemned as blatantly false by climate scientists, has been found to have breached standards by the Australian Press Council. In November, his column titled “Let’s not pollute minds with carbon fears” argued that there “are no carbon emissions. If there were, we could not see because most carbon is black. Such terms are deliberately misleading, as are many claims.”

The article also referred to the “fraudulent changing of past weather records” and “unsubstantiated claims polar ice is melting”, as well as “the ignoring of data that shows Pacific islands and the Maldives are growing rather than being inundated”.

Despite a chorus of criticism at the time, the former editor John Lehmann defended Plimer’s article, saying “his voice is one of many which are important in the mix”.

In a lengthy adjudication the Oz was forced to publish on page two on Friday, the press council said the article contained inaccurate and misleading material in its claims that the Bureau of Meteorology had fraudulently changed weather records and that Plimer’s claims that there was no evidence polar ice was melting were misleading.

The newspaper breached two of the general principles of reporting: ensuring factual material is accurate (principle 1) and ensuring facts are presented with reasonable fairness and balance and opinion is based on fact (principle 3).

The council found that while it would have preferred Plimer’s links to the mining industry were disclosed in the column, the Australian did not breach guidelines in not disclosing because Plimer’s “past or present directorships of mining companies and advocacy in the debate around climate change were so well known” that it was not required.

Plimer is a professor of geology and well-known climate change denier who has served as a director of a number of mining firms, including Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill Holdings and Queensland Coal Investments.

In reviewing the article last November, University of New South Wales professor Katrin Meissner wrote: “This article is an impressive collation of the well known, scientifically wrong, and overused denier arguments. It is ideologically motivated and, frankly, utter nonsense.”….

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

For years mainstream media have used a presence on the Facebook platform as an easy way to extend digital audience reach. What could possibly go wrong?


There are reputedly est. 15 to 16 million Australians with active Facebook accounts and many in the mainstream media avails themselves of the digital audience this represents by maintaining their own Facebook pages on which they publish newspaper articles with an accompanying comment, image and headline.

News Corp and Nine just found out the hard way that having unmoderated Facebook pages is never a wise choice.

In July 2017 then 20 year-old Dylan Voller commenced defamation proceedings against three media companies owned by News Corp and Nine Entertainment.

This is a news article abot the third and most recent judgment rendered in the ongoing legal saga.....

ABC News, 1 June 2020:

Three Australian media outlets have lost an appeal about a key ruling holding them responsible for the alleged defamation on Facebook of former Don Dale Youth Detention Centre detainee Dylan Voller. 

The 23-year-old is suing Fairfax Media — now owned by Nine Entertainment — Nationwide News and Sky News over comments posted by members of the public in response to articles they placed on their Facebook pages. 

Last year, a New South Wales Supreme Court judge ruled the media companies were publishers of the comments — and therefore liable for them — and the media companies appealed. 

The NSW Court of Appeal today dismissed the challenge and said it was clear the relevant Facebook pages were created on the basis users would be invited to post comments. 

Justices John Basten, Anthony Meagher and Carolyn Simpson said the organisations "accepted responsibility for the use of their Facebook facilities for the publication of comments, including defamatory comments".  
"It was the applicants who provided the vehicle for publication to those who availed themselves of it," they wrote in the judgment. 

'Turning a blind eye' no defence 

The judges said it was not uncommon for someone to be held liable for publishing defamatory imputations conveyed by "matter composed by another person". 

They drew parallels to cases where the owners or occupiers of buildings had been taken to court over defamatory statements on noticeboards or scrawled in graffiti. 

The court is yet to tackle the question of whether the material in question was defamatory. 

In his initial decision last year, Justice Stephen Rothman said defendants could not escape consequences of their actions by "turning a blind eye". 

He also ruled the defence of innocent dissemination was not available because the defendants were first or primary distributors. 

Mr Voller's statement of claim alleges he was defamed by imputations including that he had "brutally bashed a Salvation Army Officer", had raped an elderly woman, that he committed a carjacking and that he had bitten off someone's ear. 

The comments were posted between July 2016 and June 2017 on pages run by the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Sky News, The Bolt Report and The Centralian Advocate. 

Mr Voller's treatment at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which was the subject of an ABC Four Corners investigation in 2016, sparked a royal commission into youth detention facilities.

The judgment in Fairfax Media Publications; Nationwide News Pty Ltd; Australian News Channel Pty Ltd v Voller [2020] NSWCA 102 dismissed the appeal, ordered the applicants pay the respondent’s costs in the appeal proceedings and dismissed the notice of motion of Bauer Media Pty Ltd, Dailymail.com Australia Pty Ltd and Seven West Media Ltd filed on 23 August 2019 (the latter three media companies having sought leave to appear as amici curiae in the proceedings).

Sunday, 31 May 2020

News Corp goes digital & withdraws from print media in the NSW Northern Rivers region - with small print 'community' mastheads disappearing entirely


Last year News Corp told its shareholders that: "In addition, the Company has divested and may in the future divest certain assets or businesses that no longer fit with its strategic direction or growth targets."

It seems that such an event came to pass in May 2020, not quite four years after News Corp purchased so many of those print newspapers it is now closing down entirely or reinventing as purely digital news platforms.

Perhaps the clue to this restructuring is in the fact that this multinational media corporation mentioned "loss" or "losses" at least 223 times in its Annual Report 2019.

With News Corp owning 150 print newspapers, at the end May 2019 its readership across all mastheads only appeared to reach a weekly average of est. 7.7 million out of a nation of over 25 million people.

However, the Northern Rivers is the only NSW region being completely restructured - losing five small print 'community' newspapers entirely and six of its print news mastheads becoming digital news platforms only from Monday 29 June 2020.

News Corp Australia, media release, 27 May 2020: 

News Corp Australia announces portfolio changes 

The Executive Chairman of News Corp Australasia, Mr Michael Miller, today announced significant changes to News Corp Australia’s publishing portfolio. 

Mr Miller said that over recent months News Corp had undertaken a comprehensive review of its regional and community newspapers. This review considered the ongoing consumer shift to reading and subscribing to news online, and the acceleration of businesses using digital advertising.  

“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing. Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60 per cent as Australians turned to trusted media sources during the peak of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, print advertising spending which contributes the majority of our revenues, has accelerated its decline,” Mr Miller said. 

“Consequently, to meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company. This will involve employing more digital only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions for our partners.” 

Mr Miller said News Corp’s portfolio review highlighted that many of our print mastheads were challenged, and the double impact of COVID-19 and the tech platforms not remunerating the local publisher whose content they profit from, had, unfortunately, made them unsustainable publications. 

He said the portfolio changes being implemented would mean that from Monday June 29 the bulk of News Corp’s regional and community titles would move to purely digital publishing. 

“More than 375 journalists will be specifically covering regional and community news and information. They will continue to serve, and live in, their local communities with the majority in regional Queensland where we have most of our titles,” Mr Miller said. 

“More than 640,000 Australians, our latest figures show, are currently subscribing to News Corp’s digital news content and subscriptions are growing at an annual rate of 24 per cent. 

“Much of this growth is from local news, where subscribers have more than doubled in the past year. In regional Queensland more than 80,000 people have digital subscriptions and this number has grown by more than 40 per cent this year. 

“I’m confident that these numbers will accelerate through dedicated and constant digital publishing and continuing to serve the local communities whose trust and community commitment the mastheads have developed over decades. 

“Over the past 19 months News has launched 16 new digital only local mastheads. In total we will now publish 92 digital only regional and community mastheads, each offering readers rolling coverage, electronic alerts and newsletters, richer audio and video content and deeper local sport coverage and community debate. 

“At the same time, News Corp’s major mastheads in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – The Courier-Mail, The Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun and The Advertiser – will now become more state focused with increased regional content and will partner with our regional and community local titles in their states to ensure we deliver compelling journalism to Australian consumers regardless of where they live. 

Subscribers wherever they live will now have access to the best of News Corp’s local, regional, state, national and international news, sport, features and columnists.” 

Describing the changes being announced today, Mr Miller said: “These initiatives are significant. They will involve fundamental changes to how we operate our business but they are necessary. Together with senior executive and editorial appointments announced recently, they will enable us to be more effective in driving further success in the growth areas News Corp is excelling in such as digital advertising products, solutions and subscriptions and will embed a more collaborative way of working to maximise our sport and news coverage, hyper local digital subscriptions and the success of our all-important weekend editions.” 

Today’s announcements to News Corp’s publishing portfolio will mean some job roles will change and regretfully, will lead to job losses. Mr Miller said that for those employees impacted by the changes, he wanted to thank them personally for their professionalism, dedication and contribution. 

“They have provided News with invaluable years of service. Their passionate commitment to the communities in which they live and work and their role in ensuring these have been informed and served by trusted local media has been substantial,” he said. 

Commercially, these portfolio changes will make News less complex for its partners to leverage and will build on the innovations it already has in place. 

This includes: 

  • News Xtend which is now Australia’s top digital marketing agency for small and medium enterprises; 
  • News Connect data platform which ensures businesses reach the right consumer segments wanting to pay for their products and services through its specialist ability to access two billion consumption signals from 12 million Australians; 
  • Australia’s number one digital publisher for news, real estate, business, sport and fantasy sport, food, fashion, health and beauty, parenting and women’s lifestyle; 
  • Digital powerhouse news.com.au which has increased its audience more than 30 per cent in the past two months to more than 12.2 million monthly users; 
  • A leader in audio and video with News’ data now showing award-winning podcast downloads of more than five million monthly and digital video views topping 100 million monthly, up 45 per cent in a year; 
  • Monday’s launch of BINGE entertainment streaming service which joins Foxtel and the Kayo sport streaming service as the nation’s premium subscription broadcasters; 
  • REA Group which is Australia’s clear leader for real estate digital services and investing in Asia and the United States, through its 20 per cent stake in Move, Inc. 

In conclusion, Mr Miller said: “News Corp remains committed to Australia’s regions and communities and the initiatives we are implementing today represent a detailed, considered strategy to ensure we will better serve our journalism to Australians who live outside its major cities. 

“News Corp and its employees also will retain at their creative core their passion for championing, and advocating for an ever improving Australia. As our country emerges in coming weeks from the lockdown enforced on us by the threat of COVID-19 into a ‘new normal’, we will ensure these values that separate News Corp from other media companies are even stronger than ever.” 

Consequently, News Corp Australia is announcing today that: 

Our major regional titles – The Hobart Mercury, NT News, Cairns Post, Townsville Bulletin, Gold Coast Bulletin, Toowoomba Chronicle and Geelong Advertiser – will continue to publish both in print and digitally. 

The following regional titles will become digital only: Queensland – Mackay Daily Mercury, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Gladstone Observer, Bundaberg News Mail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, Central and North Burnett Times, Central Queensland News, Chinchilla News, Dalby Herald. Gatton Star, Noosa News, South Burnett Times, Stanthorpe Border Post, Western Star, Western Times, Whitsunday Times, Whitsunday Coast Guardian and Bowen Independent, news from the towns covered by the Atherton Tablelander, Northern Miner, Post Douglas & Mossman Gazette and Burdekin Advocate will continue to appear, as it does currently, under the regional sections of the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin; 
NSW – Tweed Daily News, Ballina Advocate, Byron Shire News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner and Lismore Northern Star; Northern Territory – The Centralian Advocate. 

The bulk of titles in our community groups – NewsLocal in NSW/ACT, Leader in Melbourne, Quest in Brisbane and Messenger in Adelaide – will become digital only. Community print editions were suspended early in April because of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The community titles to be digital-only news services are: Melbourne Leader titles – Stonnington, Mornington Peninsula, Knox, Whitehorse, Monash, Northern, Whittlesea, Maroondah, Moorabbin, Mordialloc Chelsea, Moreland, Lilydale and Yarra Valley, Frankston, Bayside, Caulfield Port Phillip, Cranbourne, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Wyndham; 

NewsLocal in NSW and ACT – Fairfield Advance, Penrith Press, Macarthur Chronicle, Blacktown Advocate, Canterbury Bankstown Express, Central Coast Express, Hills Shire Times, Hornsby Advocate, Liverpool Leader, Manly Daily, Northern District Times, Parramatta Advertiser, Inner West Courier, Southern Courier, Illawarra Star, Wagga Wagga News, St George Shire Standard, Canberra Star, Newcastle News, Blue Mountains News, Central Sydney, South Coast News; 

Quest in Queensland – Albert and Logan News, Caboolture Herald, Westside News, Pine Rivers Press, Redcliffe and Bayside Herald, South-West News, Wynnum Herald, North Lakes Times, Redlands Community News, Springfield News; 

Messenger in SA – Messenger South Plus; Messenger East Plus, Messenger North, Messenger West, Messenger City, Adelaide Hills and Upper Spencer Gulf. 

Three Sydney community titles, Wentworth Courier, Mosman Daily and North Shore Times, which are distributed in the city’s most affluent suburbs, will resume print editions. 

Some small print newspapers will cease publication, but the local journalism coverage of their area will continue, feeding into the digital masthead for their regional community. The regional titles to cease publication are: Queensland – Buderim Chronicle, Caloundra Weekly, Capricorn Coast Mirror, Coolum News, Nambour Weekly, Ipswich Advertiser, Kawana/Maroochy Weekly, Gold Coast Sun, Hervey Bay Independent, Maryborough Herald, Balonne Beacon, Surat Basin News, Herbert River Express, Innisfail Advocate, Central Telegraph; NSW – Coastal Views, Northern Rivers Echo, Richmond River Express Examiner; Tasmania – Tasmanian Country; Specialist – Big Rigs, Rural Weekly, Seniors. 

Additionally, we will streamline our community titles and will publish local stories under their regional or city-based masthead. The community titles which will cease publication are: Leader titles in Victoria – Manningham, Preston, Diamond Valley, Heidelberg, Sunbury Macedon, Progress and Northcote; NewsLocal in NSW – Rouse Hill Times; Quest in Queensland – Northside Chronicle/Bayside Star, North-West News, South-East Advertiser, Southern Star, Bribie Weekly; and South Australia – Messenger Coast Plus. [my yellow highlighting]

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Australian Community Media temporarily folds up to 150 of its local & rural print mastheads during pandemic


THEN

AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY MEDIA*:


ACM is made up of more than 170 leading rural and regional newspapers and community-based websites.
It's bolstered by the representation of over 100 independent titles. Combined they serve millions of people in every state and territory across Australia.
We are a modern, consolidated rural and regional media network. By implementing new technologies our newspapers and websites are better than they’ve ever been.
Our team is energetic, creative, collaborative and committed to ensuring we meet the changing needs of our audiences and advertisers. Every day we create and publish compelling content, both online and in print.
At ACM we are passionate about delivering smart solutions and exceptional results for our customers.
Our business may be diverse but we are united when it comes to our vision and values. We pride ourselves on our team culture, which is built on four guiding principles: Community, Audience & Customers, Results and caring for Each Other (which we refer to as CARE).
NOW
The printed editions of ACM's 14 daily newspapers, such as The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald and The Border Mail, are not affected and will continue to be available, along with the weekly editions of the company's leading agricultural publications, such as The Land in NSW, Farm Weekly in Western Australia and Queensland Country Life.
In a message emailed to staff on Tuesday, ACM executive chairman Antony Catalano said the company had been "working tirelessly to try to maintain a full level of services and meet the needs of our team members, customers and the community".
But the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the economy had "affected significantly" ACM's revenue from advertising and external printing contracts.
"For reasons beyond our control, we cannot sustain the same level of useful work or costs moving forward," Mr Catalano said.
"Accordingly, we have no choice but to temporarily cease some of our publications and temporarily close our printing sites in Canberra, Murray Bridge, Wodonga and Tamworth from April 20 until June 29.
"Regrettably, this means that for some of our employees across the business there will be no useful work available, and they will be stood down from work in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Work Act."
Some other employees would be asked to reduce their hours "where there remains some limited useful work that can be performed" while company executives had already agreed to voluntary pay cuts.
Mr Catalano said ACM was "closely assessing our eligibility for the government's JobKeeper payment and intends to register as soon as we are eligible to do so".
Which non-daily titles will temporarily cease publishing and how many employees are affected has not been disclosed as managers begin to brief teams and consult with individuals.
In his note to staff, Mr Catalano said COVID-19 was "affecting all our communities".
"We are aware that this is a very challenging time and every person across the business is being impacted," he said
"At this stage it is not possible to say when we will be able to resume normal operations. We are closely monitoring developments and will keep employees updated as things change."
While operations at ACM's printing facilities at Canberra, Wodonga on the NSW-Victorian border, Tamworth in NSW and Murray Bridge in South Australia will be halted from Monday, continuing printing work - such as of daily newspapers - will be redirected to other press sites.
Limited news coverage will continue on websites of publications affected by the temporary shutdown.
Large numbers of ACM staff have been working from home since early March as part of a company-wide response to official government directives on social distancing.
In recent days, ACM has given notice to the landlords of more than 30 small offices around the country that it intends to exit lease arrangements to reduce rental costs across the business.
ACM's 14 daily newspapers are The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, Illawarra Mercury, Northern Daily Leader, Central Western Daily, Western Advocate, Dubbo Daily Liberal, Wagga Daily Advertiser, The Border Mail, Bendigo Advertiser, The Courier, The Standard, The Examiner and The Advocate.
ACM's state-based agricultural weeklies are The Land, Victoria's Stock & Land, Queensland Country Life and the North Queensland Register, Western Australia's Farm Weekly and South Australia's Stock Journal.
Note
* Since May 2019 Australian Community Media (ACM) has been a  trading name of Rural Press Pty Limited. ACM appears to be temporarilily closing an est. 150 local/regional newspaper and magazine titles.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Tweet of the Week



Tuesday, 11 February 2020

So how is News Corp faring in the NSW Northern Rivers region?


The total resident population of the NSW Northern Rivers region is est. 302,649 people.

News Corp dominates print media in the region and, given that this multinational is losing cross-platform readership in Australia, here are the Northern Rivers region numbers News Corp admits to in July 2019.

TOTAL NEWS CORP MONTHLY AUDIENCE REACH

The Northern Star (Lismore) – newspaper printed Monday to Sauturday – No print reach published, 178.6k digital & 140.4k mobile monthly reach self-reported. Average print readership per issue likely to be around 28,000.

The Daily Examiner (Grafton) – newspaper printed Monday to Saturday – No print reach published, 42.6k digital & 32.5k mobile monthly reach self-reported. Average print readership per issue likely to be less than 10,000.

The Lismore Echo – free weekly community newspaper home delivered – 45,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Ballina Shire Advocate – free weekly community newspaper home delivered – 27,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Richmond River Express-Examiner (Casino region) – weekly community newspaper – 20,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Coastal Views (Lower Clarence Valley) – free weekly community newspaper home deivered – 16,000 monthly reach self-reported.

By contrast non-News Corp news outlets, the free weekly community newspapers the Byron Shire Echo and Clarence Valley Independent self-report a reach of 53,000 & 13,500 per print issue respectively, with the Byron Shire Echo having a self-reported 128.6k monthly digital reach as part of the Echo NetDaily regional news website.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Australian Newspaper Cross-Platform Audience Numbers for the 12 months to December 2019 are not good news for News Corp


This Roy Morgan survey of Cross-Platform Audiences covers the number of Australians who have read or accessed individual newspaper content via print, web or app from December 2018 to December 2019.

Print is calculated as net readership in an average 7 days and digital as net website visitation and app usage in an average 7 days. 

Of the 14 prominent mastheads in this cross-platform survey all had experienced readership decline in the 12 months to December 2019, with the exception of the Financial Review (up 14.1%), The Sydney Morning Herald (up 4.1%) and The Age (up 1.2%).


The worst decline in audience numbers occured in the News Corp mastheads.

Percentage Change In Cross-Platform Audience

Adelaide Advertiser  -4.4%

Canberra Times  -14.1% 
Courier-Mail  -1.4% 
Daily Telegraph  -15.5% 
Financial Review  14.1% 
Herald Sun  -7.7% 
Mercury  -3.5% 
Newcastle Herald  -5.3% 
Sunday Times  -4.0% 
Sydney Morning Herald  4.1% 
The Age  1.2% 
The Australian  -4.3%
The Saturday Paper  -7.6% 
West Australian  -6.6%

In the period December 2018 to December 2019 the print versions of all 14 mastheads experienced a degree of readership decline.

News Corp has reported a decline in global revenue and profits in the last quarter ending 31 December 2019, with revenue falling by 5.6% to $2.8 billion. 

According to Mumbrella, advertising revenue was down 5% across the business, with News Corp putting the blame largely on a “weakness in the print advertising market, primarily in Australia”.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Facebook Inc. agrees to pay News Corp millions annually for news service content



Australian Newspaper History Group Newsletter, No 105, December 2019, p.6:

105.2.1 Facebook’s news service

The launch of Facebook’s news service is a “powerful precedent that will echo around editorial departments”, News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson has declared (Australian, 28 October 2019). Thomson said it had been a difficult decade for journalism, but Facebook’s service was an important step. He said, “Great journalism will only be sustainable at scale if there is a fundamental change to the digital ecosystem. This announcement is an important step on the road.”

News Corp’s deal with Facebook — which covers the New York Post and Dow Jones publications such as the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and Barron’s — will generate licence fees reaching into the double-digit millions of dollars a year, people familiar with the agreement said. “Of itself, it begins to change the terms of trade for quality journalism, both in establishing the principle of payment, and in allowing news organisations a clearer opportunity to generate advertising revenue on their terms,” Thomson said. He has led a global battle against Facebook and Google over issues including opaque algorithms, digital advertising dominance and a failure to pay for journalists’ work.....

Facebook’s news service launched with a test audience of 200,000 US users, but the platform plans to roll it out beyond the US early next year. A date for launch in Australia has not been announced.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Australian Politics 2019: bushfire blame shifting is a tedious business which is intended to distract the electorate from considering the impacts of climate change


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Australia's climate has warmed just over 1 °C since 1910 leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events….There has been a decline of around 11 per cent in April–October rainfall in the southeast of Australia since the late 1990s….There has been a long-term increase in extreme fire weather, and in the length of the fire season, across large parts of Australia….The year-to-year changes in Australia’s climate are mostly associated with natural climate variability such as El Niño and La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean and phases of the Indian Ocean Dipole in the Indian Ocean. This natural variability now occurs on top of the warming trend, which can modify the impact of these natural drivers on the Australian climate.”  [Australian Bureau of Meteorology, State of the Climate 2018]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


On the morning of 13 November 2017 New South Wales awoke to a state still under siege from climate change and drought induced bushfires.

The NSW Rural Fire Service reported 79 fires at 4.13am, with 4 at Emergency Warning level (out of control), 12 at Watch And Act level and 50 at Advice level.

The largest Emergency fire was in the Clarence Valley local government area (148,120 hectares), largest Watch And Act fire in Kempsey local government area (223,047 hectares) and largest Advice fire in Armidale local government area (113,900 hectares).

Thankfully, changing weather conditions over the day saw the Emergency Warnings reduced to Watch And Act and the number of serious fires reduced to 69 sites

What the general public also awoke to that morning was a continuing attempt to blame shift on the part of federal and state Liberal and Nationals politicians.

They quickly focused on NSW hazard reduction rules – conveniently forgetting that it was Liberal-Nationals Coalition state governments which last amended the relevant legislation.

They blamed the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Australian Greens political party, - shockingly in one instance it was even implied that victims of these fires were themselves to blame because they likely voted for the Greens.

In this they have been aided and abetted by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp metropolitan and regional newspaper empire as well as members of that climate change denying lobby group the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

What these rightwing politicians refuse to publicly admit is that in Australia climate change is intensifying heat, reducing rainfall, increasing water evaporation rates, raising the severity levels of drought, lengthening fire seasons and causing bushfires to morph into mega fires.

Nor would these politicians admit that since 2013 the national response to climate change has become insufficient for the scale of problems now facing the country.

Here is how media is presenting this issue. Leading the pack is a News Corp journalist who happens to also be an enthusiastic climate change denier…...

The Daily Telegraph, 13 November 2019, p.13:

For eighty years, inquiries have found reducing hazards is the best, most immediate way to prevent bush fires, but green policies have led us to learned helplessness
Even a hippie in Nimbin knows that greenies are to blame for the power and ­intensity of NSW’s latest bout of tragic bushfires.
“The Greens have to cop it on the head — they have been obsessed with no fires and no burning,” Michael Balderstone told the Australian as bushfires engulfed the north coast.
Wiser words have never been spoken in that Northern Rivers town. Yet Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt still insist that the culprit is climate change.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. They oppose any sensible land ­management that is proven to ­reduce the severity of routine ­regular summer bushfires.
And when the inevitable happens they blame climate change.
Their aim is to scare people into buying their climate “emergency” hyperbole so that government is under pressure to enact suicidal policies which drive electricity prices through the roof.
But it is not climate change which turns fires into unstoppable lethal infernos. It is green ideology which blocks removal of fuel loads in national parks and prevents landholders from clearing fire hazards around their homes.

The Guardian, 13 November 2019:

Bureaucrats from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment were sent an email soon after the AdaptNSW 2019 Forum began, causing consternation among some attendees who saw it as tantamount to gagging them.

The email said: “For those attending AdaptNSW today, public affairs has issued advice not to discuss the link between climate change and bushfires.

Refer questions in session and plenaries to bushfire reps.”

What are the links between climate change and bushfires? – explainer
Read more
Former NSW fire commissioner Greg Mullins was one of the attendees.

But the participants also included scientists and experts who are developing policy and advising the Berejiklian government on adaption measures the state could take in relation to land use, planning and dealing with the risk of bushfires.

SBS News, 12 November 2019:

What does the science say?

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that Australia's fire season is growing longer and more intense due to the effects of climate change.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) stated in a report last year that Australia's climate has warmed just over 1°C since 1910.


The report said climate change has seen an increase in extreme heat events and increased the severity of natural disasters, such as drought.

"There has been a long-term increase in extreme fire weather and in the length of the fire season across large parts of Australia since the 1950s ... Climate change, including increasing temperatures, is contributing to these changes," it said.

Some in the federal government have attributed the increased risk on newly-imposed restrictions on hazard reduction burning - low-intensity burns to remove vegetation so bush or grass fires are less intense.

It is different to backburning, which specifically refers to the starting of small, controlled fires in the path of a bushfire to reduce the amount of fuel available……

Are hazard reduction restrictions to blame?

Some in the federal government have attributed the increased risk on newly-imposed restrictions on hazard reduction burning - low-intensity burns to remove vegetation so bush or grass fires are less intense.

It is different to backburning, which specifically refers to the starting of small, controlled fires in the path of a bushfire to reduce the amount of fuel available.

But David Bowman, director of the Fire Centre Research Hub at the University of Tasmania, said restrictions on hazard reductions are not entirely to blame.

"At the very core, we have a climate signal. There's extreme drought, extreme fire weather conditions - fire weather that you would expect in summer, not in spring,” he told the ABC on Monday.

"Yes, there is a role for managing fuels with hazard reduction burning - but would hazard reduction burning programs on their own stem this fire crisis? No, absolutely not."

What can we expect now?

The BOM said 2017 and 2018 were Australia's third and fourth-hottest years on record.

In April, a group 23 former fire chiefs warned climate change is worsening extreme weather and putting people in danger.

In September, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) released its annual seasonal bushfire outlook, describing the east coast of Australia as having "above normal fire potential".

"What all the evidence is showing us (is) that the temperature is sitting about one degree above long-term averages. That is leading to a much earlier start fire season around the world. That is internationally noted,” BNHCRC CEO Richard Thornton said.

"We are also seeing the cumulative amount of fire danger during a fire season going up - the time between these really extreme fire years will get shorter and shorter and shorter.

"We will see these conditions come around more frequently."
The Guardian, 12 November 2019:
So what are the claims?
The chief accuser is Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce who says “greens policy” gets in the way “of many of the practicalities of fighting a fire and managing it”.
Among Joyce’s claims, made in several interviews this week, are that Greens policies have made hazard reduction activities more difficult.
This claim, just to be clear, is about the policies of a party that has never been in government.
Joyce also blamed the Greens for “paperwork” that made it harder to carry out hazard reduction activities….
It’s not burning because they burnt off, it’s burning because they didn’t burn off,” Joyce told SkyNews.
According to Bradstock, Joyce’s claims are familiar but “without foundation.”
It’s simply conspiracy stuff. It’s an obvious attempt to deflect the conversation away from climate change.”
A former NSW fire and rescue commissioner, Greg Mullins, has written this week that the hotter and drier conditions, and the higher fire danger ratings, were preventing agencies from carrying out prescribed burning.
He said: “Blaming ‘greenies’ for stopping these important measures is a familiar, populist, but basically untrue claim.”
The Australian, 12 November 2019:

A fierce feud has ignited between NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and the National Parks and Wildlife Service following revelations the number of rangers, who perform hazard reduction burns, has been cut by a third since the Coalition came to power in 2011.

The Public Service Association has accused Mr Barilaro of gross hypocrisy after the Deputy Premier blamed the department for contributing to the state’s catastrophic fire conditions by failing to carry out extensive hazard reduction in the lead-up to bushfire season, labelling his comments “worse than an insult”.

Apart from last financial year, the NPWS has not met its annual hazard reduction target of 135,000ha since 2016.

PSA industrial manager Nathan Bradshaw blamed the failure to meet targets on severe cuts to staffing levels, saying that since 2011, the department’s 289 rangers, including 28 senior rangers, had been trimmed to 193.

Following a restructure in 2017, the NPWS’s number of area managers was cut from 50 to 37, he said.

Mr Bradshaw said the Office of Environment and Heritage’s budget had been further depleted by $80m this year, and the NPWS was absorbing part of the cut.

He said the cutbacks had directly affected the department’s ability to operate efficiently.

In 2012-13, the NPWS was involved in 208,000ha of hazard reduction; in 2016-17, that was just 88,136ha, and just 95,589ha in 2017-18. However, the government said the amount of hazard reduction had increased in 2018-19, with “NPWS undertaking 137,500ha of prescribed burns, which is above its target of 135,000ha”.

Crikey, 12 November 2019:

A new report has found Australia’s response to climate change is among the worst in the G20noting a lack of policy, reliance on fossil fuels and rising emissions, The Guardian reports.
As politicians argue over whether the “unprecedented” bushfires ravaging NSW are linked to climate change — or whether it’s appropriate to bring it up at all — the latest Brown to Green Report ranked Australia third-worst in terms of progress toward meeting its Paris goals. The report states Australia is not even on track to meet its “insufficient” 2030 targets, and highlights a poor response on deforestation, transport, energy supply and carbon pricing. The international report was compiled by 14 NGOs, thinktanks and research institutes.
A STATE OF EMERGENCY
About 600 schools will be closed across NSW today, with a week-long state of emergency declared, as the east coast braces for an unprecedented and “catastrophic” fire risk, the ABC reports.
More than 60 bushfires continue to burn across the state, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting “hot, dry and gusty winds” that “will generate very dangerous fire conditions”. The NSW Rural Fire Service is warning that firefighters will not be able to help everybody if a fire takes hold, releasing a statement declaring “if you call for help, you may not get it”. NSW RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers says the situation is worse than he could have imagined, telling reporters: “If someone came to me and said ‘let’s do one of the scenario role-plays’, I would be saying, ‘let’s try to keep this a bit more realistic’”.
BACKGROUND

NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS), Hazard Reduction Standards:

Fire Trail Standards.pdf (PDF, 5.6 MB)



Terms used by NSWRFS:


Emergency Warning: An Emergency Warning is the highest level of Bush Fire Alert. You may be in danger and need to take action immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk.

Watch and Act: There is a heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect you and your family.

Advice: A fire has started. There is no immediate danger. Stay up to date in case the situation changes.