Russel from marketing, ‘Dr’ Arndt and the ‘two-sided’ climate emergency

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

In recent days, we’ve had made-up emails in the case of the Josephine Cashman fiasco, made-up credentials in the Bettina Arndt story, even made-up personalities in adman Russel Howcroft being seconded to invent one for the PM.

Certainly, the level of fabrication is steadily increasing and it seems as though we have entered a new era: the era of spin; a blind era of blissful ignorance. This is the Trump effect, where the truth is too scary to accept and so it is dumbed down for our delicate sensibilities. In this alternate reality, fake news is just news and it is possible to find “evidence” for idiotic theories on any subject.


In the case of the made-up letter intended to discredit Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe, businesswoman Cashman has been fired from her Government advisory role. However, the fact remains that she was prepared to go to great entrepreneurial lengths to achieve her ends.

Cashman even went as far as asking Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to refer Pascoe’s Aboriginality to the AFP — which he diligently did, but to no avail, since the wrong party was being referred for investigation! And, were it not for the pesky truth getting in the way, Cashman may well have succeeded in discrediting Pascoe.


While the credibility of Bettina Arndt being awarded an Order of Australia medal for her “gender equality” work has been hotly contested by anyone who understands the term, ”equality”, it also turns out she is not as “expert” as we have been led to believe. An investigation by New Matilda has exposed that Arndt is not, in fact, a doctor, or a clinical psychologist, though she has been happily accepting those descriptions for years.

But what else is a gender equalist to do?

Um, well we can think of a few things, starting with explaining that you are not a doctor or clinical psychologist, perhaps? 


And in the case of the failed former marketer and current Prime Minister... well, it’s difficult to know who or what he is.

Scott “I-stopped-the-boats” Morrison – aided by an empathy consultant along the way – morphed into the made-up, softer “ScoMo” — daggy, “fair-dinkum” and “how good?”. Not so good, came the consensus once the PM’s stunning lack of leadership emerged, earning him public monikers such as “Scotty from Marketing” and “Crime Minister”. Enter Russel from Marketing – alleged advertising maven Russel Howcroft – ostensibly to show Scotty from Marketing how it’s done.

The result? Well, it is difficult to tell the ScoMo from today’s Mo, but at the National Press Club address, the “reinvented” Scotty-Whoever-He-Really-Is continued with the same spin on sports rorts, on borders and, of course, on climate change.


And climate change is the recurring theme in the era of spin. Since 97 per cent of scientists consider it to be a fact, perhaps the fact of anthropogenic climate change should be used as the key bullshit indicator when the truth is difficult to discern.

From Craig Kelly MP to Peta Credlin, to "Twiggy" Forrest and every right-wing “expert” in between, the truth about climate change is presented as a debatable theory, where everyone is entitled to an opinion. It is a unified and relentless campaign.

And ensuring there are no trees to be seen for the “Forrest” is billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest — whose only interest on the topic is to clear any twigs which may hinder his untaxed plundering of our natural resources. According to Forrest, the findings of 97 per cent of scientists should be dismissed in favour of his pontifications on climate change. And just in case we’re still unsure, he’s prepared to put a $50 million “bushfire donation” into finding “evidence” there’s no connection between climate change and the bushfire crisis.


And finally, as if to prove that qualified applicants need not apply when it comes to “expert” commentary, Georgina Downer appears – on ABC Breakfast – to be asked her opinion on the bushfire crisis and the Government’s response.

Georgina "IPA" Downer has no emergency services or disaster management expertise, is neither a scientist nor a member of parliament. Also presented, for “balance”, was former Labor politician Craig Emerson, who is likewise unqualified in these matters, but at least he can say he is a politician — by current standards, that makes him eminently qualified.

Downer then gave her “report” about how bushfire-affected communities were getting the support they needed, that the Government's advertisement on its bushfire response was just an “announcement” and how important it is “that people know that the ADF reservists are being called up to help on these fire grounds and do everything possible we can to help these communities”.

Who is “we”? Was Downer elected to represent us over that weekend?

Downer continued with the only point on which we may agree:

“People are in desperate need of up-to-date information.”

Indeed they are — especially during catastrophic fire events. Why, then, is Georgina Downer touted as someone with relevant expertise, or as a spokesperson for the Government? And on the ABC, no less.

We may have come to expect public relations spin from self-serving billionaires, assorted politicians and commentators, and from the current Prime Minister relentlessly shoved down our throats in the mainstream media. But we should, at least, demand better from our national broadcaster, from whom we need unembellished and unbiased facts from true experts and authorities — and even more so when many peoples’ lives depend on it.

This is only half the story!  Read the rest of this editorial in the IA members-only area. It takes less than a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a small sum for superb journalism and lots of extras.

You can follow executive editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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