Barnaby Joyce blamed the stress of worrying about his parents’ place burning down for his erratic behaviour last week, but as the emergency worsened, it became clear that his burning pants and those of his leader needed more urgent attention.
The attempt to re-frame the bushfire catastrophe as something caused by dastardly tree-huggers and latte-sippers was spearheaded by Nationals leader Michael McCormack, who said in response to Adam Bandt that people ‘don’t need the ravings of some pure enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they are trying to save their homes.’
What they did need, apparently, was the ravings of former accountant and beverage expert Barnaby, who followed up with the conjecture that two of the people who had just burned to death near Glen Innes were probably Greens voters (they weren’t, according to their friend and RFS veteran Bruce Walker, who let loose on Facebook), and hence, what? Were they responsible in some way for what had happened?
In fact the victims lived in one of the best bushfire-prepared communities in Australia, none of which helped one iota, as was explained by Glen Innes Severn mayor Carol Sparks, who also lost her house in the blaze.
‘While all this is a personal tragedy for my family and myself,’ she said, ‘it is but one story within an unfolding statewide and global disaster, about which our community deserves nothing less than the honest and unvarnished truth.’
Despite a chorus of retired fire chiefs supporting this request, any mention of the global climate crisis fuelling the bushfire catastrophe remained verboten by Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Despite a chorus of retired fire chiefs supporting this request, any mention of the global climate crisis fuelling the bushfire catastrophe remained verboten by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who told journalists, ‘There is a time and a place to debate, you know, controversial issues and important issues.’
Until that undisclosed moment, it seemed there would only be pre-loved thoughts and prayers, recycled from the American NRA playbook.
The leader of the ‘opposition’, Anthony Albanese, showed up in Akubra and cool-Albo shades at the emergency evacuation centre at Nimbin, where he was heckled about climate change, but at least had the decency to leave a few fridges to help the evacuees.
Later he went to a Qantas junket with the Prime Minister and one of the world’s most overpaid CEOs, Alan Joyce, who had just arrived on a non-stop experimental flight from London to Sydney, which Qantas claimed was fully carbon-offset.
It was left to the WA Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John to tell truth to power in the parliament, during a debate on the federal government’s proposed laws cracking down on energy companies who had the temerity to move away from fossil fuels
It was left to the WA Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John to tell truth to power in the parliament, during a debate on the federal government’s proposed laws cracking down on energy companies who had the temerity to move away from fossil fuels.
‘How dare any of you suggest that in this moment at this time it is appropriate to be prosecuting a piece of legislation with the aim of propping up coal,’ he thundered. ‘
‘You are no better than a bunch of arsonists – borderline arsonists – and you should be ashamed.’
The senator’s words were met with howls of derision by the mainstream media, despite the world’s scientists having clearly told those in power that something like this would happen for decades now, if they continued on their merry way.
Speaking of merry, invitations were sent this week to MPs at Parliament House for ‘Bright Sparks Christmas Drinks’ from the Co-Chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Resources (aka Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon and the Liberal Party’s Craig Kelly) to be hosted by APPEA. APPEA are the helpful people who brought us CSG and a host of other fossil fuel products currently contributing to the climate emergency.
The mistletoe invitations were shared to social media by the Greens’ Larissa Waters, providing a glimpse of the insiders status of the mining industry and the sham dividing line between the major parties.
At a state level, it’s a similar story. 500 people protested outside Parliament House in Sydney this week as the Berejiklian government prepared to bring in legislation to decouple consideration of global warming impacts from new mining approvals, in spite of what the courts have said about this.
While there was no talk of reinstating the millions of dollars cut from the RFS in this state, they did find time to wave through new laws to prevent exposure of animal cruelty with the support of the Shooters Party, who put out a press release charmingly titled ‘SFF puts steak through vegan terrorists.’
While there was no talk of reinstating the millions of dollars cut from the RFS in this state, they did find time to wave through new laws to prevent exposure of animal cruelty (and other interruptions of corporate exploitation of our planet) with the support of the Shooters Party, who put out a press release charmingly titled ‘SFF puts steak through vegan terrorists.’
All this was largely kept off the front pages by the bushfires, as was a gallant attempt by one man in Canberra to draw attention to the plight of Australian citizen Julian Assange. Dressed in suit and tie, he managed to get past the machine guns and climb up to the tail of the emu in the coat of arms over parliament’s entrance with his ‘Free Assange’ banner, but it was to little avail.
Where the mainstream media is concerned, if it bleeds it leads, and if it burns it earns.
Unfortunately, as Naomi Klein explained in The Shock Doctrine, disasters of all kinds are great for governments with fascistic tendencies, even if they’re wholly or partially responsible.
PS: amidst the flames, smoke and stupidity, something wonderful happened this week. After seven years in detention on Manus Island for the non-crime of seeking asylum under Australia’s international human rights obligations, the award-winning Kurdish writer Behrouz Boochani has escaped the clutches of the Home Affairs Department, and is in New Zealand.
Proof that when enough people care, magic happens, and the pen is mightier than Peter Dutton.