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Morrison pins his hopes on the complacency or ignorance of voters

By Mike Scrafton

We’re facing a climate calamity, yet the PM believes Australians are more focused on the next holiday than threats to their children’s future.

In his recent address to the National Press Club, Prime Minister Scott Morrison typically infantilised voters and kept the focus on economic growth. He believes the voters, cocooned in their cloistered suburbs, are oblivious to the threats that will crush their children’s future prospects.

Australians have modest expectations, he avers. They just want to “run their businesses [and] own their own home, raise and educate their kids the way they want to do it, save for their retirement.” They’ll be happy if they can “take that occasional family holiday.” For these contented masses “there is no more important vision than having a country where we enable our kids to realise their dreams about what they want for their life.”

Oblivious to any encroaching dangers, the prime minister maintains that Australians ”remain well prepared for the future.” That is starkly wrong.

The federal election should be about global warming, increasing wealth inequality, irreversible environmental degradation, widespread species extinction and the seeming inexorable march to great-power war. And most critically, about the unquenchable thirst for economic growth lying behind these threats.

Election campaigns never rise much above budgetary baubles, three-word campaign slogans, pork barrelling, name-calling and personal slurs, and straight-out deceptions. The electorate and the media have been conditioned to expect nothing more profound or visionary from their leaders.

This approach to electioneering is undoubtedly based on experiences and practices that have worked in the past and now have become so ingrained as to be reflexive. The interrelated crises facing not just Australia but the world demand bold and fearless long-term policy actions. The answers aren’t clear yet and there will be risks, and failures as well as wins. But inaction would be wrong.

The merits of the global warming debate don’t need re-litigating, and reiterating the projections and warnings is redundant. However, it is worth noting that the next parliament will run until 2025. If radical action is not taken to reduce emissions, to transition Australia to a low-carbon economy and to adapt the urban fabric, settlement patterns and government services to a new, hotter, less predictable and violent environment, then calamity will be on us. These are issues electors should hear debated.

Photos and videos of Earth’s formerly amazing and diverse flora and fauna will astound future generations, because most of it will be gone. The sixth mass extinction is well under way, and global warming will accelerate it.

Grandparents will relate to their descendants the experience of walking through a pristine forest encountering ancient trees and unexpected wildlife, or diving on a richly coloured reef. Much of that has already passed. Preserving what’s left of the natural world seems to be an automatic government imperative.

For the billions of people that rely on environmental services for clean water, food and health, the priority is reversing environmental degradation. Australians are included. The news is constantly bombarding the electorate with stories of poisoned rivers and seas, plastics polluting every nook and cranny on the planet, land-clearing destroying human and animal habitats, dirty air killing urban dwellers, and environmentally generated pandemics. Land degradation contributes to species extinction and global warming, which will in turn intensify the impacts of degradation. What are the parties’ policies on these issues?

The phenomenon that drives these crises is economic growth. That won’t halt. It is beyond the capacity of any single person to comprehend the totality of the behaviour driving growth. Everyone who is poor or in an under-developed country quite reasonably wants more. They want to be housed and to have access to food, health and education for their children. It is a very human thing to strive for better for your children.

At the other end of the spectrum are the capitalists, financiers, exploiters and rent seekers. No government is going to force a major redistribution of wealth or put the system that produces jobs and revenue at risk. It just won’t happen without voter pressure. There is no appetite for it among political elites. There is no viable alternative system yet. And if there was, the disruption caused by moving to it would cause catastrophic harm in the process.

The most pressing need is to find a way to regulate and direct economic activity while maintaining prosperity. Clean, green, ethical, circular and sustainable economic growth must be possible, otherwise global warming, inequality, environmental degradation and species extinction will overwhelm us.

The amazing thing is we all know this. Presumably the prime minister does as well. Yet Australian governments can spend hundreds of billions of dollars on nuclear-powered submarines, warships, fighters, missiles and, even more ridiculously, tanks to prepare for a war that, if it happened, would drastically worsen global warming, do incalculable harm to the environment and see unnumbered masses of people killed.

If the prime minister is right in his judgment of the electorate, then a bleak future lies ahead. It is nonsense for Morrison to claim “we remain well prepared for the future”. If he believes he can convince voters of this, then he thinks they are dull-witted or ignorant. If the electorate is in such a somnolent state and unaware or heedless of the multiple threats to the well-being, welfare, prosperity, and human security of coming generations, then the prime minister should be telling them.

An enormous responsibility rests on the media. If journalists just repeat the trivial utterances devised by politicians to seduce voters, and lull them into believing everything can be fixed by unregulated economic growth, it would be a professional and moral failure.

These are incredibly daunting issues for politicians, and no policymakers across the world have found the answers, or the will, to fix them. Australian political leaders are no different. But to deny or ignore the issues, to pretend they aren’t there, is unconscionable. Time is running out and the best way to begin would be to acknowledge and discuss the threats during the election campaign. Voters need to demand the discussion.

Mike Scrafton was a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, senior Defence executive, CEO of a state statutory body, and chief of staff and ministerial adviser to the minister for defence.

 

 

This article was originally published on Pearls and Irritations.

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15 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    From mild to severe, there is a class of executives in western type societies and economies, quite ruthless, brainless, heartless, gutless, thoughtless, when money, the great convertible drive to pose, success, career, is to made and hoarded to suit. The future does not exist, well, not right now. Someone else can consider that, and pay up. In politics we get puppets of putrid personal policy and of poverty of the projected future, WHICH IS a poor outlook for the planet and for us. It is a nightmare for any detached observer of clear trends, solid science, obvious knowledge. DOOM. The Australian scene is of strident mediocrity serving outspoken greedy grubs in big positions, whereapon media, money, marketing RULE, and very greedily, stupidly, carelessly, fatally. Always observe, consider, and, vote against conservative self fixated greed and stupidity, our threat. Morrison and his maggoty misfits are lazy, incompetent, careless, inadequate, our actual enemies.

  2. L.S. Roberts

    I totally agree but isn’t there something wrong with a system that allows an incompetent marketing man to achieve the dizzying heights of acting head of state. The Labor Party have joined forces with the government to limit small parties from entering parliament and changing it. It will take more than a Federal ICAC to fix the problems.

  3. GL

    You left out what I consider a fairly important word in the title: Apathy. They rely on the.”Eh, who cares.” factor of the average voter.

    Scummo and Crony Co. Inc. are only interested in the money end of the spectrum and making sure they can stay in power. Little people are at the other end and only important around the times of elections or being used to try and whip up anger at those the LNP consider enemies. The best party money can buy.

  4. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Mike.

    You have clearly stated many aspects of the Problem facing Australia and Planet A.

    Just a couple of points. You say, at the end of your article: ‘Voters need to demand the discussion.’ I’m pretty sure that voters need to LEAD the discussion. That is the only way the discussion can be forced to take place. (And it will take force.)

    I believe it’s also true that circumstances have conspired to create an electorate that is more ready for appropriate action and serious overhaul in Australian politics since the early 1970s. The situation is so dire on so many fronts. At the same time, the Government’s response has been so dishonest, inept, and downright harmful in so many ways that the electorate is more aware than it has been in half a century.

    It’s up to US, now.

    And while I’m at it – Albie, please get up on your hind legs and say a few real words.

  5. Henry Rodrigues

    Its been said here many times, the people get the government they deserve. Complacency ignorance apathy pig headedness, are what they have been accustomed to. They only scream when it impacts them personally, otherwise it someone else’s problem, Their thinking is, I’ve got a job, no matter its returns are miniscule, the hours are torturous but hey at least I’m not a loser on the dole. The tradies are the best off. Tax rebates to go get the very latest $60,000 ute and a suv for the missus, Cash only jobs. So who’s complaining ? Not them. The greedy grey haired vultures who get tax refunds even when they don’t pay any tax at all. how good is that. Thanks to little Johnny and arsewipe Costello and now the dick who takes his cue from the arsewipe the tax system is permanently fucked. And of course there’s yhe investment property brigade with 5, 6 properties laughing all the way to the bank.

    Don’t expect anything to change !!!!!.

  6. New England Cocky

    The present self-inflicted wound to Australian democracy was caused by gutless scribblers of the main stream media-crity preferring eating to starving because the American owner of the majority of Australia mastheads demands yellow journalism to discredit positive policies that may build a better Australia for every Australian voter.

    The solution to this dilemma is to:
    .
    Vote anyone but Liarbal in city electorates;
    .
    Credible local Independent or SFF in country electorates; &
    .
    mark every square on the ballot paper with my choice of preferred candidate in the order of my preference
    .
    and just maybe we can save Australian democracy for our grandkids.

    .

  7. Edenz

    Good summary Henry. Politicians have complacency down pat and I reckon it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t be in the Big House without that character trait. If nothing else this covid mess has made clear how unsuited our politicians are in getting on with the job. They are good at bending the knee to their sponsors and mates but as far as representing community they are as useful as a handbrake on a concrete bollard. Elected politicians sat back and delegated the health response to unelected bureaucrats. After that turned to mud they are now roping in the military. The military are good at taking orders and getting things done but the key question is ‘Who exactly is running the covid response’? Is it still the clueless unelected bureaucrats ordering the military around or is someone with an agenda like the WHO involved? The lives of every person in the aged care facilities depends on who is involved. I’d like to know who is playing in the sandpit.

  8. Kate Ahearne

    NEC,

    Did you mean ‘my choice’ and ‘my preference’? Or did you mean ‘your choice’ and ‘your preference’?

  9. John Hanna

    A pentecostal evangelical fruitcake who believes in the rapture so he does not give a rats about unbelievers. The movie ‘Dont Look Up’ is all about politicians just like him who wont see the issue until it affects him or people dear to him. The sooner he is gone the better but let’s not replace him with someone worse.

  10. corvusboreus

    ‘Gotta get me a new, even bigga grey’n’chrome SUV, coz i’ve just got an even bigga boat, n’ me big black jeeps neerly 3 years old!
    It needs ta hav monitaz in the headrests ‘n on the front dash, so we can all watch the telly while i’m cruisin’ round.’

    Strayan battla, 2022

  11. GL

    If you feel you need a laugh have a look at –

    I got it from a friend earlier today. The crab stoush is fun.

  12. margcal

    Morrison isn’t entirely stupid if he’s pinning his hopes on the complacency or ignorance of voters.

    In the first of a two-parter on 4-Corners on Monday, the opinions of some “undecided” voters were nothing short of depressing.
    Their political literacy was all but non-existent – the narrow and shallow knowledge of issues was appalling.
    You can see why the Murdoch headline on voting day decides elections.

  13. Carl Marks

    Yes, Moronson by a mile by the critieria offered.

  14. Consume Less

    Yep, agree.

  15. wam

    wow global warming, ice melts, tundra methane releases. If only simpletons, like me, had thought green house gas effects important? Mike emphasises that when we ignore flora and fauna we forget get who we are and where our breath and growth originates. We are animals in the web that our global warming will destroy. We are not god’s implement of armageddon but hell the bible tells me otherwise??? ps great to see ‘climate change’ doesn’t get a run??
    spot on margcal the election can be influence up to the morning new on the day.
    pps
    here’s a retired journalist view from my fb:
    Grace is certainly not tame when it comes to showing her political beliefs. Her comment that knocked the PM and directed more or less that Albo was the man to vote for is not what I think the Press Club is supposed to be about.
    an answer from denise:
    I saw her and that other female at the Press Club. It made me sick at her behaviour. It’s not helping others, only getting her a name which she loves. She is an attention getter for herself. If I ever see her again, I will be turning off.

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