Scott Morrison is an empty liar and creep, but we have known that for years. However, he is not single-handedly responsible for bringing on these catastrophic bushfires.
I need to stress that because there is much he is guilty of, but the media campaign to protect him will be intricate and will capitalise on any inaccurate criticism; even as they mesh truth with fiction to form their alternative narrative. It is said that truth is the first casualty of war and it was a similar story here. There have already been some ridiculous claims made that would be laughable if the matter wasn’t so serious. I was initially reluctant to write about the fires whilst people’s lives were still at risk, but eventually decided actually we need to talk about them whilst the reality of their devastation is obvious to everyone. And with the maelstrom of spin, exaggeration and outright lies being thrown around right now- with due respect and genuine sorrow for all those whose lives were lost- I thought it important to put a few things in context.
To begin with, if you’re going to tell me climate change isn’t proven and that we have always had bushfires, stop there. If you believe that you know more than the global scientific community, then your peer group is made up of anti-vaccers and flat-Earthers. You should stick to chatting with them because I’m not writing this for you.
Another embarrassingly stupid false narrative is that The Greens are somehow responsible for these fires because they stop hazard reduction burns. There is a seductive appeal to these lies, because accepting them is going to be a lot more comfortable for many people than admitting they have been wrong about climate change. Even so, it’s a really stupid argument. Despite the fact, that the Greens do not have a position against back burning, or hold majority government in any state, this narrative (which has repeatedly debunked by fact-checking) has been pushed so hard by unscrupulous politicians, shockjocks and newspaper hacks (if you work for the Australian I’m probably talking about you) that some people are falling for it. Sadly, some people don’t just drink the conservative Kool-Aid Rupert Murdoch and his goons provide. They practically swim in it.
Another good example of this are those who inexplicably still try to defend Morrison’s gross negligence and misjudgement at jetting off on holiday as his country faced a disaster with the argument, “Well it would be even worse if Bill Shorten was Prime Minister.” Believe it or not, I have seen this written a number of times without a trace of irony (or self-awareness it seems) so I’ll take a moment to consider it. Scott Morrison is the only Australian Prime Minister I can remember who would consider trying to downplay (he really isn’t getting value for money from his empathy consultant) the challenges and suffering of those affected by the bushfire whilst heading overseas for a luxury holiday. I would say it is a pretty safe bet that Bill Shorten would understand exactly how important it was that a leader step up and be present in times like this, as he showed with his actions during the Beaconsfield disaster. Moreover, Bill Shorten went to last year’s election with a policy that explicitly recognised the dangers of extreme bushfires and would have allocated millions of extra dollars to firefighting resources! If he was in charge, it is actually arguable the damage from these fires would be less.
But it is also overreach to claim that these fires are the primary result of Coalition climate policy. Don’t get me wrong. Australian climate policy (or lack thereof) is atrocious and is contributing to continued global heating, but the increasing air temperatures, the drought and the drying of the vegetation are all the product of decades of global inaction. The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government have been disgusting in their refusal to act and their efforts to downplay the real threat of climate change, but Australians re-elected them to office knowing full well how dismissive they were towards the threat of climate change. So while they are certainly complicit in these fires (especially Morrison considering his refusal to listen to warnings and allocate greater resources for this year) and those of the future, the government is unlikely to have prevented them simply by adopting a more sustainable policy in recent years.
The only way changing climate policy would have stopped these fires would have been if we had used diplomacy and climate policy to drive a world-wide policy shift to make a difference ten years ago (when scientists were already warning of these exact fires in the future), so it isn’t fair to suggest Morrison could have prevented them by embracing renewable energy. So while the fires seem to have made clear what a growing threat climate change presents (in a way that all of the previous “once in a generation” extreme weather events we have seen over the last ten year haven’t), you can’t lay all the blame on Scott Morrison and Gina Reinhart. Given the utter lack of morals Morrison has shown during his time in politics, I wouldn’t feel too bad for him if you did, but if there is one thing rich conservatives are good at it, it’s playing the victim (hello, Israel Folau). This type of hyperbole can undermine genuine criticism of both the Liberal government and the coal industry. And both of these entities have serious questions to answer.
This certainly doesn’t excuse our government’s wilful (arguably traitorous, given most of them benefit financially from the coal industry) negligence, but this victim narrative has already begun, especially in the Murdoch Press (which is also highly culpable for its long-running efforts to discredit climate science). The fact that Morrison could not have stopped global climate change is erroneously morphing to a narrative that he had no power to affect the extent of this crisis; and that his party’s long-running platform of science-denial and soft corruption involving the coal industry is not a problem. And this is blatantly false. Our government and our Prime Minister still have a lot to answer for
Against a global backdrop of international efforts to curb emissions, the Liberal and National Parties (along with their proxies in One Nation) have done everything they can to hinder and undermine any attempt at responsible climate policies and to discredit the warnings of climate scientists. And Morrison- famous for bringing a lump of coal into parliament- has been one of the worst. Even having seen the damage of the fires he has stated there will be no change the government’s climate policy. So they can certainly be more fairly blamed for their part in fires of the future.
Moreover, Morrison could have done a lot more to reduce the magnitude and impact of this disaster. These fires were not impossible to predict. They actually HAVE BEEN PREDICTED by climate scientists with uncanny accuracy in previous years. Even if he wanted to remain dogmatically against renewable energy, the Prime Minister could still have listened to warnings he has been receiving, by providing greater funding and resources to the fire services (as Bill Shorten would have). But he didn’t because he didn’t like the optics. Declaring a national emergency (which seemed a no-brainer at the time), increasing funding for firefighting services or appealing for international aid might have given greater ammunition to critics of his government’s climate policy at home and abroad. So he did nothing. He is such an empty PR-driven fraud that he is more concerned about the damage these fires can do to him politically than about the damage they are doing to real people’s lives.
And that is the true measure of him. Empty. Fraudulent. Useless.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Prime Minister and the party he leads.