This week, John Wren notes the Coalition's neglect of the climate crisis, its desire to have people work to 70 and beyond, and Westpac's 23 million breaches of the law.
AS I WRITE THIS, it’s 40 degrees outside in Melbourne, it's incredibly blustery and the air is filled with red dust giving the sky an orange hue.
Adelaide and Hobart are having their warmest November days on record, cracking 42°C and 36°C respectively.
Victoria has issued a Code Red fire alert for the Western Districts for the first time ever in November and the State is in a total fire ban. In NSW and Queensland, they are still battling major bushfires and Sydney is blanketed in smoke. It currently has the worst air quality of any metropolitan city in the world.
And our ersatz Prime Minister Scott Morrison today denied there was a link between our emissions and bush fires.
Last week with the bushfires in NSW and Queensland rampaging across both states, people – young and old, city and country, left and right politically – were demanding the Government act on climate change, that is actively fuelling the bushfires. Any fool can see it, but the science backs it up. Morrison, sick of dodging questions he couldn’t answer without being ridiculed, went missing. His absence was first noted by Belinda Jones, one of this publication’s regular contributors.
Demonstrating a complete absence of leadership, Morrison had gone to ground. He was waiting both metaphorically and literally for the firestorm to pass. In times of disaster, a nation looks to its political leadership for both inspiration and assurance that things will get better.
Think Churchill – “we will fight them on the beaches” – or more recently NZ’s PM Jacinda Ardern after the Christchurch Mosque shootings. Both brought their people together at a time they needed it the most. Morrison of course, not being a leader, could not.
Morrison did emerge in the end, but it took the demented ranting of his fellow Pentecostal Israel Folau to get him out from under his rock. Folau had been filmed giving a sermon where he blamed the bushfires on same-sex marriage and abortion. Interestingly though, Morrison condemned Folau for his lack of sensitivity in voicing his crackpot beliefs while the fires still raged. Morrison didn't explicitly condemn him for what he said. That tells us much about Morrison’s own perverse belief system.
Earlier this week Morrison was filmed visiting the Australian Cricket team preparing for the first test against Pakistan in Brisbane this weekend. Morrison bizarrely said that the cricket was a good thing as it gives embattled firefighters and bush fire victims “something to cheer for”.
Morrison likes nothing better than a photo-op with sports stars. It’s the old Roman “bread and circuses” trick. Keep the populace doped on spectacle and not on the damage he is doing to the nation. The sportspeople themselves, often give the game away with their body language. They don’t want to be there either.
So I ask them, why do they? Climate change will affect them and their families within their lifetimes. Imparting their aura of fame and success on Morrison encourages him in his inaction on climate change. He hopes their on-field success will rub off on him.
Last year, in the U.S. we saw former NFL star Colin Kaepernick “take a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem in protest at police killing of (mainly) black Americans. It caught on and the spectacle significantly raised awareness of the issue.
Refusing to shake Morrison’s hand or engage in photo-ops with him would have a similar effect here.
And for those of you who say sport and politics should be kept separate, I’ve heard that all my life. I remember marching as 16-year-old in NZ protesting against the Springbok rugby tour in 1981. The sporting boycotts of South Africa played a very significant part in the downfall of apartheid. Regardless, climate change is not politics. It is not a right versus left argument. It is science versus ignorance. Morrison has been choosing ignorance, and it’s a travesty that a nation like Australia has a PM who deliberately chooses ignorance over fact. Morrison is unfit for public office.
We also saw “Treasurer” Josh Frydenberg come out and effectively say that elderly people are a burden on the State and that the Government would be supporting re-training so that they could boost the economy. Many of our elderly have worked and paid taxes all their live with the full expectation that the Government would keep its covenant with them and look after them when they retire, with decent pensions, healthcare and so on.
Frydenberg is warming up to breach that covenant and tell they can’t retire they’ll have to keep working. The question remains, with the economy tanking and real unemployment at very high levels, where are these jobs going to come from?
The Government went to the May Election with a massive scare campaign targeting the elderly. They made up stories about Labor’s “death tax” (non-existent) and Labor’s “retirees’ tax” (ending franking credit refunds). Boy have the pensioners been suckered in by the Libs.
Perhaps there won’t be a retirees’ tax under the Liberals as nobody will be able retired. They’ll all be working till they drop dead.
And finally for this week, on virtually the same day that Westpac was indicted for 23,000,000 breaches of Australian money laundering laws, Attorney-General Christian Porter was putting the finishing touches on his Ensuring Integrity union-busting Bill. The Bill, if it gets up will give unprecedented power to the Government to jail leaders and break-up unions for even mild infractions. Building on the theme, Morrison at an address to the Business Council of Australia stated that workers’ rights were “administrative clutter”.
Like dogs returning to their vomit, the Libs are returning to their favourite pastime of union bashing. Imagine if the same standards were applied to the business community? Westpac with its 23 million breaches would have its entire Board locked up and the business dissolved.
Our political system is broken. In the U.S. they have a formula for removing a dysfunctional President – it’s called impeachment and Trump is going through it now. Australia has no such (non-violent) mechanism – we are stuck with the useless Morrison, unless Peter Dutton and his cronies try another spill.
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