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Cheap Grace and Climate Change: Australia and COP26

It was not for everybody, but the shock advertising tactics of the Australian comedian Dan Ilic made an appropriate point. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a famed coal hugger, has vacillated about whether to even go to the climate conference in Glasgow. Having himself turned the country’s prime ministerial office into an extended advertising agency, Ilic was speaking his language.

The language was promoted through sponsored imagery in Times Square, New York, with advertising space purchased by a crowdfunding campaign of considerable success. Billboards featured the prime minister as a “Coal-o-phile Dundee,” mercilessly mocked Australia’s climate policies and responses to the murderously scorching bushfires of 2020.

It had begun modestly: a target of $12,500 to fund a few billboards in Glasgow during COP26 as part of the project JokeKeeper: Shaming Australia’s climate inaction, described as, “Subversive comedy to ridicule fossil fuel supporting parties in the upcoming federal election.”

But the contributions gushed in, passing $160,000. It was then that Ilic began to think even more boldly. On October 14, he announced that JokeKeeper was rolling “into New York City on the way to COP26 in Glasgow.” New Yorkers were advised to head down to Times Square “to see our billboard wrapping the Marriot Marquis for a full 10 minutes.” It also included a 3min20s loop viewable 3 times. “So you can keep track of it all we’ve made you a handy Bingo Card.” In simple terms, Ilic had secured a 10-minute slot on the 77-foot “Godzilla” billboard. The headline parody: “Visit Australia, we’re rich in wind, sunshine and climate denial.” For good measure, it features a kangaroo ablaze and koalas perched in a tree. Hug them before they vanish.

On CNN, Ilic was also ablaze. “We have a PM who at the height of the bushfires took a holiday in Hawaii.” Morrison was the sort of fellow who “always runs away from a national crisis. We have to lead our leaders.”



Morrison is certainly one to run away from a certain target towards the sunset of vague aspiration. His mantra of “technology not taxes” is one such example. While few would disagree that technology will play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions, stimulating its development can come from, as Michael Keating puts it, implementing “policies to first encourage this innovation and then the take-up of the resulting new technologies.”

To aid what is essentially a non-policy, Morrison has his truculent junior Coalition partners. The Nationals portray themselves as the party of opposition, despite being part of the government. Former political advisor John Menadue sums up the somewhat perverse situation by remarking that a party which draws in only 5 per cent of the national vote “is holding Australia to ransom on climate change.”

In a truly absurd spectacle, National Party politicians pontificate in favour of the fossil fuel industry, seeking a socialist-styled underwriting of its workings and policies that would chastise banks for not funding policies that rent the earth. Their traditional base – the farming constituency – risks suffering the most from this suicidal adventurism.

Certain figures in the mining industry can only delight in such committed subservience. Gina Rinehart, Australia’s wealthiest individual, has become the lumpy Boadicea of climate change denial, funding think-thanking endeavours that seek to deny anthropogenic change while keeping her influence strong with the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, former resources minister Matt Canavan and the current Attorney-General Michaelia Cash.

As owner of Hancock Prospecting, her interests in coal are global and unsparing, featuring such projects as an expansion into North America. Her ventures into Canada’s Rocky Mountains have so far been frustrated by the governments of Alberta and the federal government but that has not stopped her from taking them to court. She was undeterred by the 679-page report by the Joint Review Panel led by the Alberta Energy Regulator and the federal Impact Assessment Agency on her proposed Grassy Mountain project. The authors had taken a dim view of potential effects of selenium pollution, threats to water quality in the Oldman River basin and dangers posed to the cutthroat trout. The Australian, however, remains a devotee of both fossil fuel exploitation and litigation.

Earlier this month, Rinehart revealed to students attending her old Perth school St. Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, how the recipient of a wealthy mining fortune can diminish science and embrace a stubborn parallel reality. In her 16-minute long video showing a modest command of language and much footage of herself at school, she wishes to set the record straight on the lunacy of climate change, though the ABC tells us that only portions of the production were shown to those tender school minds. “Rationale should ask, why does the media in general and those they influence now call for reducing carbon? More questions spring to mind. Please be very careful about information spread on an emotional basis, or tied to money, or egos or power seekers.” A marked, if unintendedly accurate self-portrait, a warning for all those around her, if ever there was one.

Rinehart continues her lesson, reflecting on an education free of propaganda (because Australian school curricula were obviously free of that) and full of analytical thrust. “It concerns me greatly, that the current generation of school leavers and attendees, too often miss such important basics. As too often propaganda erodes these critical foundations.” Rinehart, it should be remembered, has a psychological profile befitting many a dysfunctional Roman emperor, with demanding and suspicious children to boot.

With such characters in the fossil fuel consortium, Ilic has his dark comedic scripts written for him. The billboard effort in Times Square has as its target something the German Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer called cheap grace: the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance. And cheap grace is precisely the sort of thing the Australian delegation at Glasgow will be offering in spades and tailings.


Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)


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  1. Phil Pryor

    Our P M, a Mr. Hoothafark-Izzy, is not able to lead as he has had an attack of changed script, from Uber director Mr. Rudedolt Merde Dog, and following the country party is now a bit sus, as it is led by a gross imbecilic New Englander, a Mr. Rootadrinka, the incoherent. This shambles will be sorted, hopefully by increasingly aware voters, soon (???)

  2. Roswell

    Beautifully written, Binoy.

  3. George Swalwell

    A brilliant take-down. I loved it and all the words and actions of Ilic.

  4. BB

    Morrison is a vile traitor to Australia and Planet Earth, with insane obsessive criminal support for fossil fuels, coal, oil & gas!

  5. Vikingduk

    Well, fuck me, it’s a sad day when the greatest crisis us and our children and grand children will and are facing is reduced to sarcastic billboards in NY. Are we that fucked that we can take solace in this messaging, feel a level of contentment that someone is doing something, that even that dehydrated scrotum, repulsive rupert and his news corpse, where the truth goes to die, turn the corner, do the backflip, tell us climate change is real, well, you pack of rotten reprobates we fucking know.

    And on we go, drifting mindlessly into a mega fuckup, we were meant to be the guardians, not the destroyers, living in wonder in such a beautiful creation, for fuck sake, we had paradise and what do we do? Shit on it, deny it, destroy it, sell it, more money, we need more money, my precious, fuck the consequences as we sink into the sludge of our mindlessness. Fuck this,

  6. GL

    If it interferes with increasing already revoltingly bloated bank accounts (no doubt of shored) then Gina, Twiggy, Clive, and the other big business types then they are, to borrow Groucho Marx –

  7. GL

    The only reason Scummo is going is because he has been made to look even more a fool and cretin than he already is. He is the world’s village idiot.

  8. LOVO

    “He is the world’s village idiot”
    GL, I thought that the mad monk had a stranglehold on that title……. Though on reflection, I guess that descriptor could apply to the past 4 LNP PM’S. (Britain and Brazil have strong contenders..mm.) 😃
    Can’t wait for Glasgow. ..
    P.S. Though on further reflection……Every community in Australia that has an National Party or Liberal Party Rep. or Senator has an village idiot. ……..and don’t start me on Pauline 😤

  9. wam

    Ignoring the fact that the national garner enough votes to win seats, Dr Kampmark, I wonder why there is no reproof of the loonies for 12 years of inaction? No it is too late booby and christine are gone, so let them be and just rail against the LNP retirees who get the brick?
    LOVO get started the left and right extremists deserve it

  10. Brad Black

    Speaking of the ‘mad monk’, LOVO, I was watching a herd of cows and their calves the other day when the cow closest to me disgorged its bowel and of course the resulting discharge immediately made me think of the onion eater. It made me wonder, had he not embarked on a Taiwanese mission to start a war with China, what he would make of all the greeny, socialist, climate alarmism rubbish that emperor murdog appears to have washed his organisation in.

  11. Terence Mills

    Great article !

    Right now (Sunday afternoon) Morrison is awaiting a call from Barnaby who will give him his riding instructions for Glasgow.

    The mining industry want a rail line from the Darling Downs to the port of Gladstone to carry coal – normally they would have to pay for it themselves but with coal having a limited future it’s not economical for them to build their own and they can’t borrow the money so they want the Nationals to have the Australian taxpayer fund it.

    Soon we will know what concessions the Nationals have been able to extort from the Liberals and I fear that this bloody rail line will be part of it.

  12. Roswell

    Terence, the Coalition is becoming as deranged and opportunistic as the GOP, who themselves care not for what their voters want, but for what they want.

    Money has never spoken more loudly than it is now.

  13. Terence Mills

    Spot on Roswell

    David Littleproud Deputy Nationals Leader left the Nationals meeting and went straight into the SKY News studio to give them an exclusive – is he on the Murdoch payroll ?

    He is reported to have said :

    “If you’re a coalminer in central Queensland you shouldn’t be shuddering in your boots tonight, you’re still going to have a job, we’re going to see those jobs and coal exports go well into the 2040s, probably into the 2050s.”

    Clearly the Nationals are not thinking of the nation or the planet, they are just thinking about the next election and their own jobs.

  14. BB

    Indeed Roswell, money talks loudly…

  15. leefe


    “Ignoring the fact that the national garner enough votes to win seats, Dr Kampmark, I wonder why there is no reproof of the loonies … ”

    And you seem to be ignoring the fact that the Greens get a significantly higher percentage of primary votes than the Nits, but our electoral system makes it almost impossible for them to get equivalent representation.

  16. Consume Less

    Well done Dan IIic !! money well spent ( for a change ).

  17. Consume Less

    Well done Dan Ilic , money well spent !!

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