Politics Analysis

Rupert Murdoch is leading Australia to climate ruin: FLASHBACK 2019

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(Image via Flickr/DonkeyHotey)

The UN has issued a dire warning at the start of COP27 that our world is speeding down a “highway to climate hell”.

Australia is prone to devastating natural disasters, from the current flooding to the recent Black Summer bushfires. In this article from 2019, Dr Norm Sanders examined how the Murdoch media is fuelling the flames of climate change denial.

THERE ARE 117 bushfires blazing at the moment in NSW alone. 

More than 600 homes have been lost. Countless animals have suffered horrible deaths. No significant rain is forecast for months. Towns west of the Divide are trucking in water to survive. Sydney itself is on water restrictions and the bushfire smoke is more hazardous than the air in New Delhi or Beijing.

As many as 30,000 wildfires are now burning on all continents except Antarctica. Regions as diverse and distant as Siberia, Amazonia, Indonesia and California are aflame.

Geologists have renamed the present era as the “Pyrocene”, the age of fire, taking over from the Holocene epoch which dated from the last Ice Age. Fires are increasing in prevalence and intensity everywhere, adding to the cascading list of interlocking environmental disasters.

People are clamouring for the Australian Government to take action. At first, the Prime Minister tried to avoid the whole issue, afraid of the obvious connection to the dreaded climate change. He finally grudgingly had to admit that it might be a factor. As for the severity of the bushfires, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response was to reminisce on his benign bushfire experiences as a boy and advise everybody to calm down.

At COP25, the annual United Nations climate change summit, Australia ignored the fires raging at home and instead argued to keep its sleight-of-hand credit offsets scheme in order to avoid meaningful action on climate change. Australia then joined with the U.S., Brazil and Saudi Arabia to scuttle attempts at establishing “carbon markets”.

Why is Australia in league with these climate change pariahs anyway? A hint might be a quick glance at who controls the media in both Australia and the U.S.

Rupert Murdoch. In the U.S., his Fox News network has been relentlessly hammering away at the credibility of the wider media ecosystem for 20 years with a barrage of fake news. Fox News claims to be the “most watched basic cable network in America”. Since the election of Donald Trump, Murdoch can directly influence the President himself.

Murdoch has failed to gain an equivalent TV presence in Australia but has many other media outlets, including the Sydney Telegraph

Telegraph columnist Peta Credlin (who also appears on Murdoch’s Sky News) has been blasting those concerned about the present fire disaster. The headline in the 15 December issue read: ‘Alarmists need to brush up on history’.

She wrote:

All the so-called leaders and self-appointed climate guardians blaming the current bushfires on climate change know little of our history and even less about how Indigenous people managed the land for tens of thousands of years. It’s not climate change that that has caused these bushfires. It’s a severe drought in much of eastern Australia coupled with the reluctance of green-driven councils and government departments to allow hazard reduction burns.

It is interesting that Morrison also used the “don’t worry, it happened before” line. 

She goes on to say: 

‘It would be a lot easier to take the “climate change causes fires” alarmists seriously if they were actually doing something themselves; or were demanding that we move to nuclear energy (the only emissions free source of 24/7 power).’

It may be only a coincidence that many in the Coalition are actively pushing nuclear power like Ms Credlin advocates.

Could she be something more than just an enthusiastic member of the Canberra echo chamber and perhaps channelling Murdoch to successive Liberal governments?

Ms Credlin is also annoyed that the Climate Action Network’s 2020 Climate Change Performance Index rated Australia 'the world’s worst-performing country on climate change policy'.

'This can’t be based on what we are actually doing,'  she complained, sounding like a Morrison Government press release.

So, what is Murdoch’s goal? Making money, of course, but what then? It might be helpful to check out other members of the U.S. right-wing billionaires club, the Koch Brothers.

David Koch was one of the moving forces behind the right-wing “Tea Party” in the U.S. In 1980, Koch ran as a vice presidential candidate and actually spelt out an agenda that Murdoch probably endorses. 

An abbreviated version follows:

  • ‘We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws’;
  • ‘We favour the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs’;
  • ‘We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services’;
  • ‘We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.’;
  • ‘We support the eventual repeal of all taxation’;
  • ‘We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws’; and
  •  ‘We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.’

Rupert Murdoch shares at least some of these opinions as is obvious by the directions Fox News issues to Trump. The Koch agenda sounds like the road map Donald Trump is following. Trump’s mate Morrison is on the same track with his combination of agencies to facilitate “one-stop shopping” for environmentally damaging developments. 

Trump, of course, is a climate change denier to protect various special interests. Morrison has become a reluctant believer rather than a denier but is still downplaying the severity of the present situation to shield his precious coal mine owners. 

Australia is now facing the greatest emergency since WWII. Instead of putting the nation on a war footing, the Morrison Government is saying “calm down”.

Greta Thunberg is angry about the inaction of the world’s weak political leaders, Australia’s very much included. Actually, the most powerful leader in the country is Rupert Murdoch and he is taking us down a dead-end road. Australians should be getting as angry as Greta Thunberg. And be afraid.

Dr Norm Sanders is a former commercial pilot, flight Instructor, university professor, Tasmanian State MP and Federal Senator.

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