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Labor framed as the villain again

Over the last couple of days, the Twittersphere has been full of congratulations for Waleed Aly’s The Project segment on the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Apart from the fact that it’s fairly amusing that journalists like Aly get congratulated for talking about the details of a policy, and showing that they actually care about policy outcomes, (because shouldn’t they all be doing this all the time?), the segment was, on the whole a good one. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, it does drive me crazy that once again, Labor is framed as the villain, along with the Abbott government. Because journalists like Aly, like most political journalists, and like pretty much every cycinical-Labor-bashing-I-know-best-and-I-never-give-credit-where-credit-is-due tweep who seem to call themselves lefties, but have learned the art of bashing Labor from the experts like Murdoch and his minions, can’t frame any story that is negative about the Abbott government, without also framing Labor as equally as villainous, equally to blame, and (watch my eyes roll), just as bad as the Liberal government. I don’t have words to explain just how frustrating this vogue way of talking about politics is!

Look at the video again, and notice how it implies that Labor is helping Abbott to kill the RET. You’ll see photos of Bill Shorten pulling a silly face (to show he’s stupid) and the graphics on the video’s backdrop have Liberal AND Labor MPs with characters from Sesame Street, presumably to show that they’re all childish puppets. And all the same. This type of not-so-subtle imagery, and the language around ‘bipartisanship’ is clearly aimed at framing Labor as part of the problem; in this case part of the reason the drawn out RET negotiations are causing a decline in investment and jobs in the renewable energy sector and a bleaker outlook for our future thanks to climate change caused by emissions that could be abated by an increased use of renewable technologies. But hang on Aly. Hang on while you try to bash Labor over this one and have a look at a few things I like to call facts and political reality.

Firstly, the RET, Aly forgot to mention, was a success of the previous Labor government. The way he spoke about the policy, you’d swear it originally appeared out of thin air! The Howard government introduced the policy in 2001, but set the target at a measly 9,500 GWh. It was the Labor government, in 2010, who increased this target to something far more revolutionary – 41,000 GWh – in order to reach the 20% emissions reduction target by 2020. It was this policy, implemented by a Labor government that gave rise to huge investment in the renewable energy sector. This investment was further boosted by Labor’s 10 billion dollar fund that was financed by Labor’s Carbon Price policy (which the Greens were also partly responsible for through Labor’s negotiations to form a minority government). So just to recap, Labor set the responsible target, Labor funded investment through the Carbon Price and Labor got zero credit for any of this from anyone in the media at the time, including the likes of Aly. Just like Labor gets zero credit for any of their progressive policy successes.

All of this background to the RET policy was left out of Aly’s segment. To someone uneducated about the policy, it would appear that naughty, bad, bad Labor was willing to compromise everything the RET has achieved by supporting Abbott’s bid to reduce the RET in a bipartisan show of deceitfulness. To someone who hasn’t been following the story (and if you care so much about climate change to retweet Aly’s video yet haven’t noticed what’s been going on for over a year, I think you need to translate this ‘caring’ into making sure you’re ‘informed’), you would think that Labor is the one putting the renewables industry at risk by helping the Abbott government to dismantle the target, when actually the opposite is the truth. The reason there is a stalemate between Labor and the LNP over this policy is because Labor has recognised that compromise must be made in order to salvage as much of the effectiveness of their RET as they possibly can, but so far Abbott hasn’t compromised enough to get Labor’s support. Labor’s position is that they want the target at, coincidentally, the place they set it in government in 2010 – 41,000 GWh. This is Labor’s ideal. But Labor isn’t in government anymore, and in case everyone hadn’t noticed, it’s fairly difficult to run the country from opposition. And this is the point at which I would ask Aly, because he didn’t mention it, what exactly would he like Labor to do differently? Labor has been fighting the Abbott government policy of reducing the RET to 26,000 GWh. If Labor had given bipartisan support to Abbott’s government, the RET target would be 26,000 GWh, a disaster for the renewables industry and a disaster for the future of Australia’s stable climate.

Where was Aly’s outrage when Abbott announced this 26,000 GWh policy? And where has Aly’s coverage been of Labor’s fight to stop this policy succeeding? Now, after a year of fraught negotiations, Labor has managed, with the help of the renewable energy industry, who they have been working closely with as any responsible opposition should, to pull the Abbott government kicking and screaming up to a place where there might be some compromise to save the policy – at 33,500 GWh. Yet the Abbott government won’t accept this compromise, insisting on 32,000 GWh, which is clearly just a political move to try to maintain some vestige of control over the negotiations and letting investment continue to suffer in the meantime. So again, what would Aly have Labor do in this circumstance? Give in to Abbott and accept the lower target, or keep fighting to bring them up to a target that is lower than Labor would like, but has been deemed acceptable for the time being to the renewable energy sector in order to keep investment flowing. It’s not clear what Aly would prefer Labor did because no one ever has this conversation when they’re busily saying Labor has done everything wrong and Labor is the villain and no one should support Labor and oops…. then we got an Abbott government and wasn’t that a disaster for climate change policy?

Some credit where it’s due Aly and quit the Labor bashing. Your RET segment would have been more informative had you not given in to your usual predilection for painting Labor and LNP as ‘the same and just as bad as each other’. I would better believe you cared about climate change if you didn’t paint Labor and Liberal as sharing similar climate change polcies. No one who really cares could possibly infer this. And your profession would be more valuable to our community if it didn’t imply a vote for Abbott is the same as a vote for a Labor government, which the outcome on climate policy has painfully shown to be a complete and utter lie.

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  1. aravis1

    Thanks Victoria; you’ve expressed my exasperated feelings very well.

  2. Tony

    Yes I agree. To tar us with the same brush is lazy and inaccurate.

  3. susan

    Well said. It seems to me that just about all tv “journalists” including the ABC, with the exception of Four Corners , seem to think that researching actual facts is a waste of time. Anyone who works for channel 10 “news” is just a Murdoch propagandist and seriously delusional if they think they can call themselves professional journalists.

  4. RosemaryJ36

    Labor is its own worst enemy by not advertising sufficiently what they are doing. Who are Labor’s media advisers? Where is the volley of Tweets and Facebook entries to help spread the news?

  5. Blanik

    The problem with most MS commentators who pretend to not be MS commentators is that they are mainly concerned with their own arses. If they push one wat too far there’s the risk that the others may have power and the said commentator may be out of work.

    Now that’s fair enough as far as it goes, but when these folk, in there attempt to pacify both camps do nothing except ensure that they have a safe position – regardless of the society they are attempting to influence – they damage the society. But, come on, commentators have to live too.

    They don’t seem to care that they are really no better that the group that they are currently condemning, at the moment. This turd is the same.

  6. marcia marcia marcia

    Look at the broader picture here… is a brave move by any main stream presenter/journalist to headline climate change at all…yes the propaganda media is so pervasive and powerful self-censorship is at an all time high for what is the biggest story/issue we face…of course they don’t want their arses kicked….look what happened to Leigh Sales after she slugged it out with the PM last year or the year before, full on frontal lobotomy administered by ABC management afterwards and she’s just never been the same since. Soo forget Labor if they have been working hard, as they should be in the renewable sector, they’ve been environmental criminals elsewhere…just for a moment look at this act of rebellion by Waleed and see it for what it is – mutiny against the Murdochracy and The Party….woo hoo….it’s a good sign people.

  7. eli nes

    No main stream commentator or journalist or labor spokesman dare support gillard/swan nor challenge the debt crisis lie. They are so conditioned by and frightened of abbutt that even when costello gives them a start, the media skip over and little billy is silent.
    Loved your words, Victoria, but when I see whiteanting insects like ‘the right size for a small ape’ on the tele I cringe and despair for Australian labour and the Labor Party.
    Waleed Ali has a disingenuous streak that is disturbing. It may be a long bow but he seems to be able to lie with the same religious sincerity as our pm?

  8. Andreas Bimba

    I would have thought the Australian Greens and the independents Oakeshott, Windsor and Wilkie would also have had a significant role in drafting the climate change policy that Labor claims as its own, as well as a few other things like dental policy. Labor are too in bed with the coal industry, the fracking industry, the minerals council and the banking/financial services industry as well as any corporation that chooses to lean on them. Labor have assisted with the unrestrained growth of that megalomaniac Rupert over the years as well and this has greatly harmed Australia’s fragile democracy.

    Labor has many fine parliamentarians and has had many fine leaders and ministers but some of their parliamentarians and power brokers work for someone else’s agenda and that agenda is against the best interests of the Australian people.

    Labor has also followed the total free trade (FTA with everybody) neoliberal fiscal austerity economic rubbish that has led to the loss of millions of jobs for Australian workers – Labors own traditional contituency. Labor needs to ditch its money worshipping right faction and reconnect with working people and progressive Australia otherwise they will continue their slide to Liberalism.

    As for the Nationals and the Liberals, they almost totally betray the Australian people by working quite openly for the Institute of Public Affairs who are much more than a political think tank but are a destructive and subversive organisation. The conservative coalition government now largely only serves the interests of the rich and powerful in Australia and have abandoned the middle and working class and have moved so far to the right and have become so universally corrupt and incompetent that they must be swept from power as soon as possible.

    Australia deserves a lot better.

  9. Hotspringer

    Sorry, Victoria, I stand with Andreas. ALP isn’t as bad as the Coalition but not by much, as long as it is prepared to compromise on really vital issues.

  10. stephentardrew

    Victoria as independent progressives our role is to hold the flame of critical analysis too all political parties and I do not withhold from the necessity to challenge Labor.

    Given this I do think it is completely misleading to misrepresent Labor and twist facts to suit ideological whimsy.

    I will willingly accept the positive attributes of Labor while being cuttingly critical of what I perceive as their limitations and unacceptable compromises.

  11. Maxmann

    I saw the same thing in reports on the Victorian East West Link settlement. The deal was a shocking one for taxpayers. LNP’s actions were wholly disgraceful. Against the odds, the incoming Labor Govt. rescued the state finances and reputation.

    ABC –
    The new Victorian Government will pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to stop the East-West link being built, but neither major party comes out of this looking good, writes Barrie Cassidy.

  12. gangey1959

    Morning all.
    One could carry on with Humpy-like verbosity about the efforts and virtues of the CoaLNP in their collective efforts to subjugate the masses to the wills of sir rupert reinforrest et al, and how the mean and nasty ALP are just being petty in trying to insist that if at least one person doesn’t have a PAYE ‘job’ then no one will have any taxation pocket money at all and if that happens Jojo will never balance anything,or how WA will secede and join asia,or how the RET should be scrapped entirely but cannot be recycled because it has too much carbon that will be released, and finally how the Victorian ALP government promised there would be no compensation for winning the election and now they have broken that promise already and are going to bury their heads under Swanston St until the heat dies down.
    There. I think I’ve covered just about everything.
    I only have ONE question.
    You write wonderful articles. Inciteful. Articulate. Erudite. Well-informed.
    What the hell were you doing watching “The Project”?
    Had you super-glued your hands to the keyboard by mistake whilst trying to fix the budget for tony and joe, and were therefore unable to change the channel?
    ‘The Project’ is a waste of time, money, effort and materials, a bit like Masterbati’s and Ferarri’s, and is completely devoid of talent.
    I mean, let’s face it. When they do a ‘Cat up tree gets rescued’ story they blame the Not CoaLNP for putting it there in the first place.
    Or the tree.
    That’s me done.
    Have a fun day

  13. townsvilleblog

    Simply more Murdock, Reinhart, Packer propaganda from one of their loyal servants.

  14. Jexpat

    Australian “journalists” are nowhere near as adept at framing false equivalencies as their American counterparts- but they’ve been learning fast.

    Thomas Mann explains:

    The mainstream press really has such a difficult time trying to cope with asymmetry between the two parties’ agendas and connections to facts and truth,” said Mann, who has spent nearly three decades as a congressional scholar at the centrist Brookings Institution.

    “I saw some journalists struggling to avoid the trap of balance and I knew they were struggling with it — and with their editors,” said Mann. “But in general, I think overall it was a pretty disappointing performance.”

    “I can’t recall a campaign where I’ve seen more lying going on — and it wasn’t symmetric,” said Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who’s been tracking Congress with Mann since 1978.

    …If voters are going to be able to hold accountable political figures, they’ve got to know what’s going on,” Ornstein said. “And if the story that you’re telling repeatedly is that they’re all to blame — they’re all equally to blame — then you’re really doing a disservice to voters, and not doing what journalism is supposed to do.”

  15. Awabakal

    When radio stations and newspapers are tiered with fervent representatives of social orders then I have to think that the proletariat has been hoodwinked and heriarchical creep is happening unbeknown.
    Controlling the public thinking is a known strategy, not entirely successful but dangerous when left unchallenged.

  16. crypt0

    Memo all voters …
    Voting LNP because you don’t like the ALP is like eating excrement because you don’t like peanut butter.
    Not exactly a high brow comment I know, but …

  17. Blanik

    I smiled, crypt0. Truth is that I grinned.

  18. stephentardrew

    Regardless there are a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouths.

  19. AndrewL


  20. David K

    “Regardless there are a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouths.” – stephentardrew

    And no shortage of media spruikers telling them that it’s crucially necessary medicine.

  21. Marg1

    Well said.

  22. Wayne Turner

    Spot on article.The prime example on why I find Aly a complete phoney,who just isn’t a total one sided stooge for the Libs ie: no ringing endorsement.Basically ALL of our MSM sucks.Some just suck more than others.

    A shame Aly and the like NEVER played this way when Abbott and these Libs were in opposition eg: ONLY critical of Labor and gave the Libs a free ride.

    The reality is Aly is just a better at hiding it stooge,working in the MSM.At the end of the day he is another double standard stooge working in the MSM.

  23. guest

    The most incredible comparison between Labor and the Coalition is the claim that Direct Action is already far and a way ahead of any Carbon Tax scheme, especially Labor’s.

    While details of the Direct Action plan are scarce, the only information is what we have from an over-hyped Greg Hunt on the 7.30 Report.

    Apparently this “reverse auction” pays from revenue people who offer to reduce carbon emissions in various ways. The claim is that carbon emissions have been reduced by 47m tonnes already.

    What is not clear to me is whether the carbon emissions reductions have in fact been made – or whether it is at present only promises by various bidders to cut emissions or sequester them in some way.

    How are these reductions measured? And by whom?

    What are the methods used to reduce the carbon dioxide? Sucking it out of the air? Burying it in the ground? Planting millions of trees? Brilliant new technology?

    The chances that Direct Action, even with all the present hype, will get anywhere near meeting the 5% target by 2020 are very remote. And after that, how will the DR plan achieve a 30% reduction by 2030 or 50% by 2050?

    This claim of a more efficient and cheaper plan than a Carbon tax seems too good to be true – and clearly is.

    Hunt and his plan and extraordinary claims must be closely examined.

  24. Möbius Ecko

    guest. What an absolute perk the polluters are getting at tax payers expense.

    Many of these polluters had already significantly reduced emissions under the previous government because if they didn’t they paid for it. The statistics prove this as overall carbon emissions had reduced on the introduction of carbon pricing and were going further down.

    Carbon price removed and the polluters immediately start emitting at full bore again. Proof in the statistics of increased carbon pollution on removal of the carbon price.

    And along comes idiotic economic dunderheads that says they will buy $2.5 billion worth of their pollution. So now the same polluters have supposedly reduced their emissions, which they had done before, but are now getting millions to do so with little to no oversight and no punitive actions if they continue to pollute whilst being paid not to.

    Of course the polluters got rid of, temporary disabled or turned off all their abatement mechanisms and efficiencies on the carbon price being removed as they knew full well that they could hook them all up again when these idiots in power starting paying them huge amounts of tax payers money for them.

    They royally screwed this imbecilic government and are laughing all the way to the bank at the tax payers expense.

  25. Kaye Lee

    One farmer at Bourke has agreed “to a series of land management restrictions which effectively prevent sheep grazing and reduce the amount of cattle across 13,000 hectares of his land.” Since he doesn’t have any sheep or cattle because of the drought there will be no abatement. He is also getting paid to “nurture the growth of native trees like mulga and bimblebox” which I assume means don’t clear the scrub paddock but what happens if a fire comes through?

    “I’m sure there’s going to be some sections of the community who look at this and say it’s a bit of a joke but the way I view it is that we’re presented with an opportunity,” Mr Bull said.

    “The Government’s framed a market … and all we’re doing is taking advantage of a market that’s being created.

    “At the end of the day we’re trying to make a quid off the place.”

    The Clean Energy Regulator said on Thursday said it had contracted to spend $660 million buy more than 47 million tonnes of abatement – mostly from carbon farming and landfill gas projects at an “average” price of $13.95.

    It means that the government has theoretically met one quarter of its target at the first go, although nearly half the abatement bought in the first auction will not be delivered before 2020.

    Unless the government can find much cheaper abatement, it will not be able to meet the target of buying around 236 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent to meet that 2020 target

    “Under the previous carbon laws major emitters would not only be responsible for their emissions, they would be paying around $10 a tonne, whereas the government is paying nearly $14.

    Reputex’ Grossman said the auction result indicated that landfill gas and native forest protection project developers had sought to ‘cash in’ from the first auction while industry – such as electricity generators – wait on the sidelines.

    Grossman said the fact that so much was sold in the first auction indicated that high emitters would need to move quickly, or miss out on funds if they are unable to develop projects in time.

    However, Grossman said that the industry is likely to be cautious because of the $14 average price. It may not give a good enough price signal for them to act.

  26. Douglas Evans

    Victoria continues her demented and increasingly unhinged defence of all things Labor. The lady doth protest too much methinks.

  27. Mark Needham

    “This type of not-so-subtle imagery,”

    Victoria, if you do not like this form of journalistic licence, then perhaps you should not partake of it yourself. I point you to your article “An open letter to Joe Hockey” The photograph heading the article and then into the words itself.

    I agree with you that “just how frustrating this vogue way of talking about politics is!” is crass and not serving any good purpose.

    In fact, it is self serving, inarticulate and in most cases downright offensive. This “tippy tapping” web, turns us all into “wordsmiths” ( big smile, me too) who are excited by seeing ourselves in print.

    This freedom of the press, speech and other freedoms of this country are great. But none of us are, can or will be held accountable for our Errors, Lies, Untruths, Disparaging and Insulting statements. Some of the posts above, fall into this category.
    That we could be mistaken for a mob of Bully type school children, is not far from the truth, sometimes.

    Lack of Accountability and most importantly, Responsibility, is seen in just about every post on all sorts of subjects.

    All levels of society are guilty, but, Victoria, you don’t like the fact, that the argument is about “everyone” or in your words, ” without also framing Labor as equally as villainous, equally to blame, and (watch my eyes roll), just as bad as the Liberal government”

    If the cap fits…

    Yes you are correct. The level of conversation has sunk to an all time low. I mean the subjects that we raise sometimes are bad enough, but then to carry on like a proverbial Pork Chop, is most unbecoming.
    It is disgusting.
    We are all guilty of it.

  28. mischmash1m

    Victoria..Channel Ten CEO is Gina Rhinehart..I never trust The Project no matter how hard they try to appear fair and balanced there’s always a twist to it, they always use the same ‘their all as bad as each other’ spin to appear unbiased and capture the audience..I can see through that..Wait till election gets near and watch it all change over to supporting Abbott..It’s all about capturing the audience then changing the mantra when needed so the audience will fall for it because they have built up the trust…Very sneaky well planned agenda our media is playing..most people can’t see through it…so many gullible sheep.

  29. Awabakal

    mischmash1m – “Channel Ten CEO is Gina Rhinehart”, – are you sure about that?

  30. Glenn

    “The way he spoke about the policy, you’d swear it originally appeared out of thin air! The Howard government introduced the policy in 2001, but set the target at a measly 9,500 GWh. It was the Labor government, in 2010, who increased this target to something far more revolutionary”

    “Revolutionary”? That’s a huge stretch. Gough wasn’t even close to “revolutionary” and his policies were more radically progressive than Gillard’s, a “left faction” member of today’s labor. In the above quote you provide reference to evidence the Labor and Liberal parties operate from the same, or similar, ideological and value premises. The neo-liberal, market-faith-based approach of hoping a few fines and bribes can overcome the corrupting power of control over huge concentrations of capital is like a shared religion never seriously questioned. Even the union movement has been co-opted and de-“radicalised”, resulting in it’s historical decline and the reduction of many unions to a little more than a means of worker management for capitalists. Labor “true believers” should stop making excuses for a party that forever follows the Liberals to the right. Labor made it’s bed… and that this might mean we suffer Abbott is not the fault of voters, but Labor and ruling class.

  31. Mischelle Magrin

    Ten’s billionaire shareholders are James Packer, Bruce Gordon, Gina Rinehart and Lachlan Murdoch..and $77 million Ten will receive as part of Murdoch’s Foxtel purchasing up to 15 per cent of the network in 2015..Yes Gina left her job as CEO of channel 10 in 2014..after four years..after she got Abbott into power..On The Project back then all they did was bash Labor in Govt but never Abbott in Opposition…Now they bash Labor as much as they bash the Govt..strange change of tactic.

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