You might remember 2020. It was the year that Australia’s state and territory leaders demonstrated who really ran the country. At various times during 2020 a number of states and territories restricted entry to and movement around their jurisdictions on the basis of minimising the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Despite Prime Minister Morrison and some of his Ministers claiming the restrictions would ruin the economy and were too onerous and counter-productive, the process of lockdown and minimising movement seems to have been effective and restricted the ability of the virus to spread.
Apart from keeping people alive, there is a direct economic benefit to minimising the spread of the virus as the majority of Australians were able to go out and spend money to stir the economy from its COVID-induced slumber. Even the government contributed through the funding of various packages that had the additional, but sadly short term, benefit of bringing social security payments up to a level where people could actually live on the payment. It is probably coincidental that the rate was increased when it was assumed that a lot of people that make up Australia’s middle class (who the Coalition believe make up Morrison’s quiet Australians) would be requiring assistance. You also might remember that while Morrison was claiming to ‘accept the science’, he was far less critical on some jurisdictions around the country that had (and still have) Liberal Premiers, such as New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.
At the end of December, Paul Bongiorno wrote a piece for The New Daily titled PM shirks duty in gold-standard quarantine blame game that discusses the failure of the Morrison Government to implement quarantine facilities as required by the Biosecurity Act 2015. Morrison passed the responsibility to the states. Bongiorno notes
Mr Morrison is more than happy to leave it to the states to apply their health acts to contain the virus — it gives him gold-standard scapegoats and masks his own dereliction of constitutional duty.
Dennis Atkins, writing for InQueensland made similar comments in discussing Queensland Premier Palaszczuk’s management of the issues around the pandemic. As Atkins pointed out,
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s unswerving position on border closures has been based on scientific and health advice.
Atkins was far less complimentary to Morrison when discussing the recent failure of the ‘gold standard’ New South Wales pandemic management process on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
The primary take out from this cluster (never has this word been more apt) is that Scott Morrison finishes 2020 where he began it — he is a blatherskite of Olympian standard.
Following the science has proven to be a success. Australia’s total case numbers have been routinely surpassed by daily new infections in the USA where former President Trump used a number of ineffectual strategies (including blaming other countries for deliberately introducing the virus and ignoring the science of minimisation of contact with others) to stop those who had the infection but didn’t know it. On 9 December 2020, more people in the USA died from COVID-19 than all who were killed on or after September 11, 2011 as a consequence of four co-ordinated terrorist attacks on US soil.
Environmental scientists tell us that there are significant detrimental impacts to our and our descendants’ lifestyles if the rise in global temperature cannot be kept below 1.5 degrees, yet Morrison and a few other luddites around the world continually claim that the economy wouldn’t survive the changes required. Every state in Australia, as well as 73 nations, 398 cities, 786 businesses and 16 investors have indicated that while a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is not easy, they intend to get there. The Coalition Federal Government is not one of them and Morrison is being treated like an environmental vandal that he is.
The Prime Minister will not be among 70 world leaders invited to speak at the UN’s virtual Climate Action Summit this weekend after Australia’s climate ambitions were deemed unacceptably weak to be offered a place.
Two of our three largest coal customers, Japan and South Korea, announced during 2020 they intend to be net-zero emissions countries by 2050 and the other (China) claimed they will be net-zero by 2060, demonstrating a shrinking future demand for coal in any case.
Given the evident lack of planning and concern for the future shown by the Coalition Government, it’s probably just as well that the number of people employed in the mining industry is nowhere near as many as proponents would suggest
According to the government’s own statistical agency, of the 12.9 million Australian workers in 2019 only 52,100 worked in coal mining with a further 28,100 employed in oil and gas extraction. When jobs in refining and energy supply are factored in, a generous estimate of employment in the fossil fuel industry is 133,100 people.
Oh dear. But it gets worse,
So, having established that 99% of Australians don’t work in the fossil fuel industry, let’s deal with the next stone climate denialists like to throw, that coal mining is the “backbone of regional Australia”. The government’s own data shows that it’s entirely untrue.
According to the ABS Census data, Sydney and Melbourne are among our biggest “mining hubs”. The Queensland Resource Council released some rather embarrassing research which showed that far more “inner-city elites” worked in mining industry than in any part of regional Queensland. The same data also showed the inner-city mining workers earned significantly higher pay than the workers based in regional Queensland.
The claims that permanent job losses are inevitable are somewhat overblown anyway, as University of Technology Sydney and Clean Energy Council produced a report in mid-2020 that forecast significant increases in employment in regional Australia to service the roll out of renewable energy production.
Morrison claims as his justification for sitting on his hands and doing nothing to manage emissions is that Australia only produces about 1.3% of the world’s emissions and our actions would be inconsequential. Professor and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai is an environmentalist who founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. Despite considerable opposition, the Movement has planted 51 million trees in Kenya and trained over 30,000 Kenyan women in forestry, bee keeping and other professions that provide an income while protecting the environment. She compares her work to a hummingbird.
One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest, and a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire, feeling very discouraged and powerless, and grieving the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire — except for one little hummingbird.
This particular hummingbird swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water, then flew into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird.
“It’s too much.”
“You’re too little.”
“Your wings will burn.”
“Your beak is too tiny.”
“It’s only a drop.”
“You can’t put out this fire.”
And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird, asking in a mocking voice, “what do you think you are doing?” And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”
So much for accepting the science. Morrison is happy to ride on the coat tails of the State premiers by claiming to have accepted the health science but he clearly doesn’t accept the climate science. We need less marketing and more hummingbirds.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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”According to the government’s own statistical agency, of the 12.9 million Australian workers in 2019 only 52,100 worked in coal mining with a further 28,100 employed in oil and gas extraction. When jobs in refining and energy supply are factored in, a generous estimate of employment in the fossil fuel industry is 133,100 people.”
While all the profits go to foreign owned multinational corporations and all the costs stay in Australia where the oil corporations pay little or no taxation for the privilege.