Media Sauce: Turnbull Earth Hour? What killed Bill Leak? Break unjust laws?

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Malcolm Turnbull refuses to turn the lights off in his Point Piper mansion for Earth Hour

This week, Doc Martin casts his net wide to discuss the tenth anniversary of Earth Week will Mal, or won’t he turn out the lights; sheds light on who or what killed BLeak and celebrates trade unionists breaking the law.

Earth Hour — Will Malcolm Turnbull sit in the dark with us?

IT SEEMS LIKE an insignificant, simple thing and detractors say it is nothing more than a tokenistic gesture, but turning off your lights for one hour next Saturday evening, is one small step you can take to show you care about climate change.

Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007 and now it celebrates its tenth year with events planned in over 170 countries and more than 7,000 cities.

Earth Hour is only one small contribution to saving the planet and it might seem like a "one light-bulb at a time” kind of change, but as with many things, it’s the thought that counts.

All you have to do is switch off your lights for one hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on Saturday 25th of March.

According to WWF Australia CEO, Dermot O’Gorman, Australians should feel proud of the role they’ve played in starting a decade-long, global conversation about climate change. “It’s a great Australian success story,” he says.

"We have seen a huge number of positive steps towards a brighter future in the decade since Earth Hour started, proof that one person can make a difference.” 

The tenth anniversary of Earth Hour is also a useful time to reflect on how far we’ve come.

In 2006, less than 1,000 homes across Australia were using solar panels. Now the number is over 1.5 million and growing. We have quadrupled our use of wind power over the last decade and renewables continue to chip-away at coal as the energy source for electricity generation.

Now, in the wake of blackouts in South Australia and predictions of more to come across the southeast of the country, the pressure is on to turn back to coal and gas. The energy lobby is relentless in its expensive pursuit of influence in Canberra.

However, coal and gas are not so popular with the general public, hence we’ve seen Malcolm Turnbull reach for a major distraction in the past week — a half-baked plan to increase the capacity of hydro-electric power generation in the Snowy Mountains at a cost upwards of $2 billion dollars.

Bill Shorten hasn’t ruled out supporting the scheme, which is currently under feasibility study, but he described the idea as another of the PM’s “thought bubbles” that has not been properly vetted through the policy process.

Both the Victorian and NSW governments were also blind-sided by Turnbull’s announcement, despite being the major shareholders in the current Snowy Mountains hydro generation project.

And Shorten is right, Fizza needed the Snowy announcement to distract media attention from the “chaotic” national electricity market which is so compromised it might now be cheaper for Australia to export gas to japan and buy it back, than to sell gas directly into the Australian market.

Meanwhile, back to Earth Hour and calls for PM Turnbull to switch the lights off in his harbourside mansion for one hour on Saturday night.

Last year, Turnbull refused requests from Earth Hour organisers to switch off the lights. In 2016, Earth Hour manager Sam Webb called out Turnbull and other leading Aussie politicians for "dragging their feet" on renewables and climate change.

At the time, Ms Webb told that there "are some very cynical people in the world" on climate issues.

“There are also those who have very closely held interests that are threatened by the move away from fossil fuels onto clean, renewable energy. Sadly, a small number of powerful people make a lot of money from creating the pollution that is causing global warming and they are doing all they can to keep polluting, with no regard for the devastating impact this is having around the world.”

Sadly, we see it is no different this year.

The Government is prepared to subsidise a giant coalmine in Queensland and Malcolm Turnbull still hasn’t pledged to support Earth Hour in 2017.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is hoping to encourage / embarrass Turnbull into sitting in the dark on Saturday evening by crowd-funding an advertising campaign involving large trucks and billboards with the simple message: ‘Dear Mr Turnbull will you switch off for Earth Hour?’

I’ve put in a media request to the PM’s office seeking an answer to this question, I expect to not get a response. I’ll let you know.

Help Earth Hour crowdfund the billboard for Canberra (Image courtesy WWF/Earth Hour)

If you want to get involved in Earth Hour, there is a website devoted to local events, you can either attend one of these, or launch your own.

Did the Left kill Bill Leak?

The mourning clowns at NewsCorpse have made a habit of ridiculing Earth Hour in their columns and editorials, and it’s no surprise that Chris Kenny often leads the charge. If you follow @chriskkenny on Twitter you will know that he is an erudite and learned fellow when it comes to the vexing questions of climate science, the economics of renewables and what causes power outages in his hometown of Adelaide.

Kenny is a seasoned campaigner in the "culture wars". His worldview is predicated on the crazy belief that every major public institution in Australia, apart from NewsCorpse itself, has been captured by raving Leftists with an anti-business, pro-human rights, green, queer agenda.

Laughable as this proposition is to sane people who see the world as it really is, it is the motivating force – the lifeblood – of Murdoch’s motivated scribblers and calumnists.

It is therefore not really surprising that, to a man and a woman, NewsCorpse employees lined up this past week to eulogise the cartoonist Bill Leak and to condemn anyone who dared utter a disparaging word about him.

According to Kenny, anyone who dared to make a joke at Leak’s expense was to be roundly condemned and hounded for speaking out of turn. So much for free speech — which at The Australian is only (white) skin-deep.

To make matters worse, The Australian and other Murdoch outlets hinted darkly that Leak’s demise was the result of him being bullied and pursued by the Australian Human Rights Commission. One celebrating mourner it a service for Leak even carried a homemade ‘WANTED’ poster with Gillian Triggs name on it, suggesting she was personally responsible for BLeak’s demise.

As usual, to make such a vile accusation half-plausible it had to be covered in mistruths, unreliable imputations and plain misleading language by NewsCorpse scribes. Leak’s supporters among the Murdoch rat pack muttered and buttered openly about the role of Gillian Triggs in causing Leak’s untimely death.

It was implied that Leak’s heart attack was brought on by the pressure he had been put under recently by the so-called "racist cartoon" cases that were before the AHRC until recently. But we should be absolutely clear, it was NewsCorpse that brought all of this pressure to bear on Leak.

It was NewsCorpse that martryred BLeak by making him their poster boy for a campaign to make it easier for bigotry and racism to gain a hold in our public discourse.

Leak was always the Murdoch camp’s useful idiot in this drawn-out and ultimately unsuccessful case. It was the NewsCorpse editorial management who upped the ante on a daily basis in this case. It was NewsCorpse lawyers who provided documents to Hedley Thomas to write up the case, week-after-week.

It was NewsCorpse that broke protocol and published details of the complainants. It was NewsCorpse that kept this issue in the spotlight for months and imposed on Leak the arduous task of having to prepare a lengthy defence statement.

It was Leak’s legal team that prolonged the agony for Leak, by not putting forward the section 18D defence of artistic licence and fair comment.

No, the Left didn’t kill Bill Leak, it was an unfortunate heart attack. Any pressure that Leak was under that may have increased his stress levels and put him at risk was the result of his own actions and those of his employer, not those of his detractors. 

Show me an unjust law and I’ll happily break it

What precious snowflakes Australian political journalists are. Bernard Keane has written an excellent piece in Crikey about the hypocrisy of reporters “tut tutting” the new ACTU (and first female) secretary, Sally McManus, for suggesting that breaking an unjust law was something she – and the trade union movement – would be prepared to do.

Keane points out that reporters who regularly publish stories from leaked documents are breaking the law. He skewered Turnbull and the Liberals by pointing out that the whole of the NSW branch of the party contravened political donation laws and he noted that employers (bosses) regularly flout the tax laws, the employment law and occupational health and safety regulations in pursuit of profit.

But it goes further than this.

The legal system is not a level playing field. For the rich and the powerful (bosses) changing a law you don’t like is easy — all you have to do is pick up the phone and make an appointment to see Malcolm or a senior minister.

Paying too much tax? Easy, get the tax rate dropped

Hate paying your staff penalty rates to work unsociable hours? Easy, get the government to stack the Fair Work Commission and change the laws.

Don’t like the power unions have on your building site? Easy, give the Liberals a donation and they’ll reconstitute the ABCC.

However, if you’re a trade unionist these avenues are closed to you — just ask the Victorian firefighters if you don’t believe me.

The law is not handed down on silver platters from on-high, never to be changed, amended or tampered with.

The law is a plaything and a useful tool of control for the rich and powerful (bosses). They can change it on a whim, we are stuck with it — unless we are prepared to break it, to challenge it publicly, to mount a campaign and to defy it.

If it wasn’t for people breaking unjust laws – people like me and you – there would be no votes for women, there would be no eight-hour day, there would be children working in coal mines and there would be no penalty rates to be cut.

Street protests were illegal during the Vietnam War, but we protested anyway and we stopped the war.

Street marches were illegal under Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s government, but we marched anyway, and we won.

Fuck stupid unjust laws, fuck ‘em until they are unworkable. Then fuck ‘em again till they’re repealed.

Oh ... and if you’re a journalist who pontificates on this stuff and joins the “tut-tut” brigade, don’t drink and drive, don’t lead the cops on a merry chase around southern NSW until you decide you’ll pull over; don’t use your phone while driving and stop taking recreational drugs on the weekend.

And by the way, did you fill in the 2016 census form correctly?

Didn’t think so; but you blamed it on the hacking and denial-of-service attacks, didn’t you?

You can read more by IA's political editor Dr Martin Hirst on his blog Ethical Martini and follow him on Twitter @ethicalmartini.

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