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Byron Shire
July 14, 2024

How to avoid setting your political pants on fire

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While in opposition, Anthony Albanese was endlessly critical of Scott Morrison’s inaction over the climate emergency, and his lack of meaningful support for Australians as they faced unprecedented bushfires and other calamities. So, does our current prime minister hold a hose, and if so, does it contain petrol or water?

There haven’t been a lot of reassuring words so far in 2023. The last federal budget claimed to deliver ‘strong investments in emergency management’, acknowledging nearly 70 percent of Australians were impacted by storms, floods, cyclones and bushfires over the previous twelve months. There was extra money for the National Emergency Management Stockpile, and talk of minimising disaster-related pressure on the ADF, via the National Emergency Management Agency and a new Disaster Ready Fund.

PM Albanese toured bushfire-affected areas in July, spruiking Local Economic Recovery grants. He said his government would be supplying a national large air tanker to supplement the NSW fleet of firefighting aircraft, as well as implementing the new, extra-scary Australian fire danger rating system, which goes from ‘moderate’ to catastrophic’.

So far, that seems to be about it. Unfortunately none of this will do anything to stop a Black Summer style disaster from happening again.

Scott Morrison visiting the Northern Rivers after yet another climate-related natural disaster. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Remember ScoMo?

As Albo has said, he can’t change the facts of the climate crisis or ‘defy science’. But he could be much less hypocritical in his political response.

Under his predecessor, bushfires destroyed 24 million hectares and 3,000 homes, killing at least 34 people and about 3 billion animals. In January 2022 (from opposition), Mr Albanese said, ‘Thousands of Australians who face bushfires, floods and cyclones every year deserve to be protected by a federal government who plans ahead and invests to keep them safe.’

In December 2022 (in government), he said it was time for Australia to ‘wake up’ about the climate change crisis. ‘We need a long-term response and it needs to be a global response and Australia has got to be part of it.’

The climate disaster is also global, of course, with unprecedented fires across Europe and Canada. Most recently, across the Pacific, ScoMo’s favourite emergency-avoiding holiday destination, Hawai’i, has been burning, at the cost of 115 lives and rising.

Although spring has just started in Australia, there have already been numerous fires across the country. Years of predicted drought will make this summer and the next terrifying for many, with no relief in sight according to the science, just a relentless curve towards catastrophe if business as usual continues.

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More words in place of action

While the Albanese Government has officially recognised that climate change is a threat to Australia’s national security, it’s apparently not enough of a threat to stop opening new coal mines and gas fields.

This hypocrisy is on display in two recent official government documents, the Intergenerational Report 2023, which puts a positive spin on the economic possibilities of climate change and pretends we are on track to hold global warming under 2 degrees, and the latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory figures, which were released on a Friday afternoon with no fanfare.

The one piece of information the government chose to highlight from the second report is that renewables are on the rise. The data also shows that greenhouse gas emissions in Australia are rising back towards pre-pandemic levels, with no sign of a transition towards Labor’s much vaunted 43 per cent cut by 2050. Very bad news, in short.

After a three week break, both houses of parliament in Canberra resume sittings today. Hopefully it won’t all be about Qantas and John Farnham.


David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie.

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

Long ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum.


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21 COMMENTS

  1. What’s it like David to have to rely on snide little quips like “ extra-scary Australian fire danger rating system” to demonstrate how clever and above it all you are? Perhaps an alternative is doing some real research into what has actually been done by the Government to both transition to renewables and ameliorate the inevitable effects of climate change. As well as acknowledging what’s been done, suggestions as to what being less hypocritical might look like in terms of initiatives ie real analysis and recommendations.

    Certainly it’s bad that emissions are rising but what does “rising back towards pre-pandemic levels” mean? That we haven’t returned there, despite international and domestic flights and industry back to normal? Interesting the emphasis that can be put on things. (We might expect a slight drop when all those planes were grounded in the desert and people couldn’t drive interstate?)

    We’d all like everything done immediately but drawing equivalency between this government and the last is a bit much. I’m sure this Government for example will listen to any delegations from retired fire chiefs.

    Perhaps the Greens are just trying to give the Government more to spend on disaster preparedness by holding up the $10 billion HAFF but threatening the proposed increased taxation on $3mil + super accounts won’t do much to help the bottomless demands for more expenditure on everything.

    • Lizardbreath, it all very nice to keep running protection for the ALP by beating up on the LibNat on their climateFAIl.
      Its your ALP mob now in government and the ALPpromised plenty to fix climate and GHG emissions but the fact is that emissions are rising and the trend is to keep rising.

      From the Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: March 2023
      Incorporating preliminary emissions up to June 2023 Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts;

      – “Emissions for the year to March 2023 are estimated to be 465.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide
      equivalent (Mt CO2-e). This is relatively flat compared with the previous year, with emissions
      estimated to be up 0.1% (0.3 Mt CO2-e)”
      – “National emissions are preliminarily estimated to be 467 Mt CO2-e in the year to June 2023, an
      increase of 0.9% on the previous year to June. ”
      The final June 2023 figures will be released in November.

      The Australia Institute has done some work on our GHG emissions trajectory –
      “As time runs out Australia’s emissions are going in the wrong direction
      August 25, 2023 by Polly Hemming”.
      Dial it up for a read.

      The ALP can’t have it both ways, keep blaming LibNat for climateFAIL whilst ALP talking big on climate but goes about approving new Coal and Gas to deliver its own climateFAIL.

  2. If you actually go and listen to what the people on the ground at these fires are saying, the mainstream narrative collapses. Particularly in the cases of Maui and Greece.

  3. “While the Albanese Government has officially recognised that climate change is a threat to Australia’s national security, it’s apparently not enough of a threat to stop opening new coal mines and gas fields.”, PM COALbo / ALP to the climate rescue, N O T!
    Hot on the heels of earlier this year ALP approving new Coal and Gas projects comes the latest coal approval – 31/8/23, Gregory Crinum coalmine expansion.
    On climate, nothing will change with the dangerous and reckless LabLibNat Fossil Fuel Cartel.
    We just keep getting served up the same old bollocks with Lab and LibNat, this is what happens when political parties are bought by $’shundredsofthousands Fossil Fuel Industry ‘donations’.

    • With respect Joachim… Climate change is a threat
      To our national security ? Please explain ?
      Just in plain old english will be just fine thanks..

      • Barrow, climate change is an existential threat. You ask how climate change is a threat to national security.
        ‘The Conversation put up a piece on this very subject – ‘Australia’s finally acknowledged climate change is a national security threat. Here are 5 mistakes to avoid’, Published: July 7, 2022 5.55am AEST ‘Bianca Di Marchi/AAP

        Barrow, get onto theconversation.com website and dial up the article for a read.

  4. 1.3 percent of world emmisions…and articles like above and irresponsible comments are putting the fear into our kids at unprecedented levels…
    If Australia shutdown today ..it would make
    Not one be of difference to global warming..
    Seriously once upon a time only green hysteria
    Would be at the forefront of global warming
    Alarmism . Now it’s so fashionable to be on
    The bandwagon…can’t make this up really !

    • If all the countries in the world that produce similar omissions to Aus reduced their emissions it certainly would make a difference. You don’t strike me as a shirker, Barrow. If asked to help out in a disaster – flood, fire etc – would you just answer “yeah, nah – what difference would I make?”

    • Barrow, you didn’t mention Professor Alan Finkel this time….ha, ha, ha.

      Barrow, the Climate Science is in.
      Yes, the climate science is alarming, that we are creating our own existential threat. It doesn’t have to be this way, we have the solutions to get off fossil fuels and preserve an inviting planet for human beings habitation.

      • If the planet becomes ‘less inviting’, there would be a drop in the human population, which you lot keep saying would be good for the planet. Are you caring about nature, or yourself.

  5. OK, that’s it – I’m officially withdrawing from the field and to reduce my anger levels I’m also through with reading the Echo. Your latest little bout of censorship is pathetic. I’ll leave you with all the semi literate boring ramblings of the crazy to the sycophantic!

      • Ever the child, Joachim it’s fine for you – they print every bit of off topic, repetitive drivel you write. You should have seen what they censored of mine ‼️ – AMAZING 🤯

        But I’m just off now to read The Australian 🤣🤣🤣

    • Don’t give up Liz. Keep applying pressure. You have to win the battle within yourself before you can effectively fight the power. Listen to the song ‘Hi Ren’, it will make you feel better.

  6. Don’t tell me you Lizardbreath are being censored. Have you been naughty and questioned the mighty lefty narrative?, or tried to present a contrary view. How dare you. You must tow the green line mate.

    • CONSTANTLY. You might be surprised, but it’s not so much the lefty narrative I’ve questioned nor the green line I’ve “failed to tow”, it’s more the Greens narrative I’ve called out.

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