Minister McKenzie spits in the face of decency, ethics and every decent Australian

A good comment …

‘Government has become an abstract concept and the general populace rarely makes the link between Government incompetence or malfeasance and themselves, unless they are directly impacted by an event.

Thank you for pointing out the impact of this apalling betrayal of public trust Mr. Pascoe. All of us need to be reminded that the Government is our Government, and that Government employees work for us, the people, not the other way around. We all need to take a more active role, as you have done.’

Minister McKenzie spits in the face of decency, ethics and every decent Australian

Bridget McKenzie's sports grants scandal shows her lack of respect.

Senator Bridget McKenzie showed a complete lack of respect for the public in her handling of sports grants. Photo: The New Daily

Michael PascoeContributing Editor



There is no news in this column. You’ll learn nothing more of the $100 million Bridget McKenzie sports grants scandal than has already graced the headlines.

This is merely an attempt to humanise the loss, to push through the protective skin of cynicism that has formed about the Australian heart when confronted with another example of political malfeasance.

They all do it,” we mutter with passing disgust and turn the page.

Come the next election we acquiesce to giving them the chance to do it again. !!!!!!

And it’s not as if Senator McKenzie’s effective theft of money from deserving community sporting organisations was a matter of life or death, or at least not obviously.

nationals leadership bridget mckenzie
Senator Bridget McKenzie raided the public purse to buy votes. Photo: AAP

It’s not as if she was underfunding rural fire services or failing to acquire an adequate aerial firefighting force or resisting carbon emissions reductions.

But the deputy leader of the National Party, next-in-line to a sometimes-acting Prime Minister, and her hack ministerial advisers did trample people to use your money to keep their snouts and that of their colleagues in the public trough.

There are the obvious people used and abused in the process – the community sports volunteers and Sport Australia staff Senator McKenzie teased and misled with the supposed availability of grants, the people she encouraged to diligently work for a sound cause, the people she lied to and discarded.

Then there are the less obvious souls – the people who were more deserving of government assistance than those who were targeted for their votes in marginal seats.

These people represent the opportunity cost of base political bribery – what greater good could have been achieved with the better use of public money, with the ethical, rather than unethical, use of your money?

It’s been a while since I was involved in community sport, quite a while, but it left me with a conviction about the general nobility of the cause.

Taking your turn with the sausages and the BBQ, helping set up and dismantle, coaching, washing the jerseys, sitting through the annual meeting, it’s all good stuff.

And, when done well, it’s brilliant. In particular when young people are encouraged to play in good spirit, to understand and grow to love teamwork, to broaden their experiences and challenge themselves, it can be a very fine thing indeed.

There are the usual claimed health benefits of sport, of course, but there is more than that at stake. Hand on heart, I think over the years I’ve seen lives positively influenced by community sport, young lives maybe moulded a little for the better by the experience of people taking care of each other.

Community sport is a good thing.
Community sport does a world of good for young Aussies. Photo: Getty

Team sport as we generally know it is not for everyone, for some it is nothing at all or worse, but there are others for whom it has been very important indeed, kids who might not otherwise have been touched by a sense of beneficial community.

Senator McKenzie spat on those people.

She decided they weren’t important, that buying a few votes was more important than honourably discharging her elected duty.

Nothing displays a politician’s treason – putting personal interests before the nation’s best interests – than a willingness to raid the public purse for partisan gain.

Then there are those volunteers who carefully read the grants’ guidelines, who jumped through the hoops and spent the hours, the many hours working up a deserving application. There would have been meetings – meetings! – to agree on what was needed and what might be sought.

The volunteers are generally true believers in their community and sport, in the fellowship and help it provides, in that quaint old idea of “society”.

Senator McKenzie and her hacks toyed with those good people, played with their hopes and betrayed them.

The game was rigged. The ref was corrupt. They never had a chance.

The volunteers preparing those deserving submissions were amateurs playing against seasoned cynical political pros. They weren’t even playing the same game – the volunteers playing community, the political hacks playing pure political self-interest.

And what about the good people at Sport Australia who tried to run an honest contest? If you want your soul destroyed, try being honest in an overwhelmingly corrupt system.

Do your work, put in the hours, maybe find some little community gems that you’d like to think you could help shine, take some pride as a bureaucrat in a good outcome from a professional process  – only to have loathsome political advisors in the minister’s office rip up your work and bury those gems.

The first recommendation of the ex-Telstra chief David Thodey’s public service review to be dismissed out of hand by the government was that political advisers should have a code of conduct. You can guess why.

The erosion of the Australian Public Service by successive governments’ white-anting has reached its peak with the political hacks in ministers’ offices riding roughshod over departments and bodies such as Sport Australia. No care and less responsibility.

There may have been an occasion when the Auditor General has been blunter about the structural corruption of a minister’s office, but I can’t at this moment recall it. Says the ANOA report:

The award of funding reflected the approach documented by the Minister’s Office of focusing on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 Election.

There is some irony in the initial impetus for the audit coming from Georgina Downer’s stunt at a bowling club in the family ancestral seat she failed to win.

It was tacky and obviously dodgy at the time for the Liberal candidate – not even an incumbent MP – to be proffering $127,373 of our money in a Liberal-branded mega-cheque, barrel girl style. 

As it turned out, the good folk of Mayo were not so easily bought.

I don’t know if the Yankalilla Bowling Club was one of the more deserving applicants for a grant, scoring close to 100 on the Sport Australia system, or one of the rubbish efforts.

It might or might not have been the application that scored just 39 point but was plucked from the Sport Australia bin by Senator McKenzie for purely political purposes.

But her office stealing millions from the most deserving community sports clubs to buy votes has ended up staining the whole process.

The decency deficit

Did your club win a grant in Bridget’s rigged game? Did you deserve it – or are you the recipient of stolen goods? Does the Yankalilla Bowling Club and others like it in marginal seats feel a little bit soiled by association now or doesn’t it care how it came by the taxpayers’ dosh?

And finally, there’s Sport Australia.

Where was the protest? Where was the mass resignation? What does it say about the integrity of the board that it stood by mute while its staff’s honest work was trashed and the Sport Australia name was traduced as a fig leaf for political corruption?

Maybe Sport Australia’s chiefs, like Bridget McKenzie, her staff and her fellow ministers and their staff, are only in it for themselves and are not interested in promoting and protecting best practice with public funds.

We need a real Federal ICAC yesterday. There’s no way this government will allow one.

Bridget McKenzie's sports grants scandal shows her lack of respect.




An Aussie invention could soon cut five per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions

AUSTRALIAs position as a global leader in renewables installation is uncertain because the Renewable Energy Target, which was achieved in 2019, has not been extended. *

WITH supportive policy … and less idiocy

scott morrison coal climate change

Solar energy is vast, ubiquitous and indefinitely sustainable.

An Aussie invention could soon cut five per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions

australian energy challenges

An Australian invention could transform the energy industry. Photo: Getty

Andrew Blakers


In the 1980s, a global race was underway to find a more efficient way of converting energy from the sun into electricity.

Some 30 years ago, our research team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) came up with a breakthrough, called the PERC silicon solar cell. The cells have become the most widely deployed electricity generation technology in terms of capacity added globally each year – comfortably exceeding wind, coal, gas, hydro and others.

PERC stands for Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell. By the end of this year, PERC technology will be mitigating about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions by displacing coal burning.

Assuming that its rapid growth continues, it should be reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by the mid-2020s and possibly much more in later years.

The terrible bushfires in Australia this summer, enhanced by the hottest and driest year on record in 2019, underline the need for urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. By far the most effective way is driving coal out of electricity systems through very rapid deployment of solar and wind.

Soon, our Aussie invention will be generating half the world’s solar power. It is a pertinent reminder of Australia’s capacity for finding transformative technical solutions to address climate change. * But we need the right government support.*

An Aussie invention

Solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity without moving parts. More efficient solar cells generally produce cheaper electricity because fewer solar cells, glass covers, transport, land and support structures are needed for a given solar power output.

By the early 1980s, the best laboratory cells around the world had reached 17% efficiency. This means that 17% of the sunlight was converted to electricity, and the rest (83%) of the solar energy was lost (as heat).

During the 1980s, our research team at UNSW led by Martin Green and myself created a series of world-record-efficient silicon solar cells. We reported 18% efficiency in 1984, 19% efficiency also in 1984, and the important milestone of 20% efficiency in 1986.

In 1989 our group reported new solar cell design called “PERC”, with a record efficiency of 22-23%.

This new, more efficient cell was better than the old ones because we eliminated some defects in the silicon crystal surface, which led to lower electronic losses. The PERC design also enabled us to capture the sunlight more effectively.

In the 1990s, further improvements to laboratory PERC cells were made at UNSW, leading to cells in the 24-25% efficiency range. The global silicon solar cell efficiency record remained at UNSW until recently.

There was a 25-year gap between development of the PERC cell and its rapid commercial adoption, which began in 2013. During this time, many people worked to adapt the PERC design to commercial production.

solar power
An Aussie invention could be generating half the world’s solar power

PERC cells are more efficient than previous commercial cells. Strong incentives for more efficient cells have recently arisen due to the continually falling share of cell costs as a proportion of total solar power system costs (including transport, land and mounting systems).

The big benefits of solar

Currently, solar power constitutes more than 40% of net new electricity generation capacity additions, with fossil, nuclear, wind, hydro and other renewables making up the balance.

Solar is growing faster than the other electricity generation technologies. Over time, as fossil-fuelled power stations are retired, solar (and wind) will dominate electricity production, with consequent large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

solar power
Solar power has experienced rapid growth over decades, while other technologies are experiencing static or falling sales. Source:

This year, enough PERC solar modules will be sold to generate 60-70 gigawatts of power. According to projections, PERC will reach three quarters of annual solar module sales in the mid-2020s, enough to match the generation capacity additions from all other technologies combined.

About A$50 billion worth of PERC modules have been sold to date. This is expected to reach several hundred billion Australian dollars later this decade.

Just imagine

Australian emissions (excluding those from bushfiresare falling because we are installing solar and wind four times faster per capita than the EU, US, Japan and China.

*Our position as a global leader in renewables installation is uncertain because the Renewable Energy Target, which was achieved in 2019, has not been extended. *

*With supportive policy, such as facilitating more transmission to bring solar and wind power to the cities, Australia could greatly increase the speed at which wind and solar are deployed, yielding rapid and deep cuts at about zero-net cost.

Such policy would entail stronger and sustained government support for renewables deployment, and research and development of new technologies.

Looking ahead

Solar energy is vast, ubiquitous and indefinitely sustainable.

Simple calculations show that less than 1% of the world’s land area would be required to provide all of the world’s energy from solar power – much of it on building roofs, in deserts and floating on water bodies.

Solar systems use only very common materials (we could never run out), have minimal need for mining (about 1% of that needed for equivalent fossil or nuclear fuels), have minimal security and military risks (we will never go to war over solar access), cannot have significant accidents (unlike nuclear), and have minimal environmental impact over unlimited time scales.

Australia is making major contributions to mitigating climate change both through rapid deployment of wind and solar and technology development such as our PERC cells.

But with better government support, much more can be done – quickly and at low cost.

Andrew Blakers is Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University. His research interests are in the area of solar energy systems.This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

australian energy challenges




Morrison Govt targeted Marginal Seats in potentially illegal sports grants scheme … auditor general reports!

THIS is how it’s done … How good’s this?

IT really looks Crook!

Labor sport spokesperson Senator Don Farrell said the report revealed “industrial-scale pork barrelling”.

“I think it’s very clear that the Government did not expect to win the last election,” he said.

“They thought they could get away with all this pork barrelling, save a few extra seats, and it’s come back to bite them in a very big way.”

Federal government targeted marginal seats in potentially illegal sports grants scheme, auditor-general reports

By political reporter Jack Snape

Updated 16 JANUARY 2020

Bridget McKenzie holds her fists up during senate estimates.

PHOTO: Bridget McKenzie was sport minister at the time of the program. (ABC News: Toby Hunt)

RELATED STORY: $100m sport grant scheme ‘illegal’ according to former senior government lawyer

RELATED STORY: Teams in marginal seats scored big with government grants. Emma’s wasn’t one of them, so she gets changed outside

RELATED STORY: Recommended sports clubs shunned as new details emerge in Georgina Downer cheque scandal

A contentious $100 million pre-election cash splash by the Federal Government was focused on marginal and target seats.

Key points:

  • The Government spent $100 million on grants for the Community Sport Infrastructure Program in the months leading up to the election
  • The office of then-sports minister Bridget McKenzie identified target electorates as part of assessing grant applicants
  • The auditor-general found a bias of funding towards marginal and target seats

*The findings from the auditor-general, released on Wednesday, also raise the prospect that the entire scheme was illegal, noting there did not appear to be any legal authority for then-sports minister Bridget McKenzie to have picked recipients.

The report into the Community Sports Infrastructure Grant program discovered “evidence of distribution bias in the award of grant funding”.

Labor sport spokesperson Senator Don Farrell said the report revealed “industrial-scale pork barrelling”.

“I think it’s very clear that the Government did not expect to win the last election,” he said.

“They thought they could get away with all this pork barrelling, save a few extra seats, and it’s come back to bite them in a very big way.”

Hundreds of grants were recommended for funding by Sport Australia but were rejected by the minister, whose office earmarked some seats as “marginal” and “targeted”, and funnelled money towards those.

Projects in these electorates applied for 36 per cent of the funding, and received 47 per cent of the amount approved in the first round.

“The award of funding reflected the approach documented by the minister’s office of focusing on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 election,” the report stated.

“Applications from projects located in those electorates were more successful in being awarded funding than if funding was allocated on the basis of merit assessed against the published program guidelines.”

In the third round of the program, 73 per cent of projects given funding were not recommended by Sport Australia.

A spokesperson for Senator McKenzie said the program was “very popular” and all recipients were eligible.

“The ANAO [Australian National Audit Office] report is clear that no rules were broken.”

Sport Minister Richard Colbeck echoed his colleague, noting “as the ANAO report found, no applications assessed as ineligible were awarded grant funding.”

Decisions inconsistent with guidelines

The report notes testimony from the minister’s office included the argument that the guidelines included a reference to “other factors” being taken into consideration.

The minister’s former chief of staff, quoted in the report, also argued “the success of the program relied on the support across Parliament so needed to make sure the spread of projects reflected the statistics and could be seen as fair”.

Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer hands over a novelty cheque to the Yankalilla Bowling Club.

PHOTO: Former Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer — not the local sitting independent member — handed over a cheque as part of the scheme. (Facebook: Georgina Downer — Liberal for Mayo)

However the report declared advice about assessing the applications was inconsistent with the guidelines.

“The minister’s office drew upon considerations other than those identified in the program guidelines, such as the location of projects, and also applied considerations that were inconsistent with the published guidelines,” it stated.

“It was this assessment process that predominantly informed the minister’s funding decisions, rather than Sport Australia’s process.”

The report also suggests the entire scheme may have been illegal, with no apparent legal authority for the minister to make these decisions.

“It is not evident to the ANAO what the legal authority was,” it said.

Former government lawyer Ian Cunliffe believes the scheme is open to legal challenge by unsuccessful applicants.

“If it was [an application worth] half a million dollars and I was on the board of one of the sports bodies involved I would be pushing very strongly that it be done,” Mr Cunliffe said last year.

Deserving projects missed out

The report highlighted decisions where positively assessed applications missed out on funding.

In the then Labor-held Tasmanian electorate of Braddon — identified as a ‘targeted’ electorate by the minister — the fourth and fifth-ranked applications were approved in round one, but the highest-ranked application (with a score of 93) was not approved for funding in any round.

The auditor-general found reasons for funding decisions were not clearly documented.

The approach caused problems for Sport Australia, which was unable to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

“Sport Australia was unable to communicate the full and actual reasons for the rejection of their application, or otherwise provide those applicants with advice on the reasons for their application being unsuccessful,” the report stated.

Kate Palmer alongside Mike Baird and Stuart Ayers

PHOTO: Sport Australia chief executive Kate Palmer (centre) during her period in charge of Netball Australia. (AAP: Paul Miller)

The auditor-general also recommended Sport Australia address problems of conflict of interest, noting an “undeclared and unmanaged conflict of interest involving a senior Sport Australia employee” with responsibility for the program.

“There is a risk that the sport linked to this organisation was provided with a competitive advantage compared to other sports and potential applicants by that Sport Australia employee,” the report said.

“Sport Australia advised the ANAO that it took action in relation to this issue.”

Sport Australia chief executive Kate Palmer is stepping down this month.

Ms Palmer is not the senior Sport Australia employee referenced in the report in relation to the conflict of interest.

Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer hands over a novelty cheque to the Yankalilla Bowling Club.




JAMES MURDOCH Attacks NEWS CORPs Climate Change Coverage

In Australia, News Corp has been criticised by some politicians, scientists and members of the public in recent years for airing the views of commentators who deny that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet.

The World Today

with Eleanor Hall, Sarah Dingle

James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn arrive for a wedding reception.


LISTEN 4m 22s Volume 87%00:0000:00 Image: 

Reuters: Neil Hall

James Murdoch attacks News Corp’s climate change coverage

By David Sparkes on The World Today

Download James Murdoch attacks News Corp’s climate change coverage (2.00 MB) Download 2.00 MB

They are the most powerful media dynasty in the world and now a very public division is opening up in the Murdoch family over how their companies cover climate change.

In Australia, News Corp has been criticised by some politicians, scientists and members of the public in recent years for airing the views of commentators who deny that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet.

And this morning, Rupert Murdoch’s son, James, has attacked the company’s reporting on the issue in light of Australia’s bushfire crisis.

Duration: 4min 22secBroadcast: Wed 15 Jan 2020, 12:22pm

More Information


Jim Rutenberg, New York Times journalist
Tony Koch, retired journalist





James Murdoch slams News Corp for denying climate facts

‘ … The majority of people who work here agree with James. We are hoping this may be the tipping point.’ Comment from an Executive …


James Murdoch slams News Corp for denying climate facts

James Murdoch and his climate activist wife Kathryn slammed News Corp for perpetuating climate myths. Photo: Getty/ TND

As his country of origin burns, Rupert Murdoch is being slammed for how his businesses promote coverage and commentary that ignores – or totally contradicts – facts about man-made climate change’s role in the bushfire catastrophe.

Now, in what is perhaps a sign the smoky winds of change are blowing within the powerful media empire, Murdoch’s youngest son has broken ranks to call out the untruths.

James Murdoch, 47, joined his climate activist wife Kathryn in publicly shaming media giants News Corp and Fox News for their coverage on Australia’s bushfire crisis.

James and Kathryn Murdoch at Rupert Murdoch’s 2016 marriage to Jerry Hall. Photo: Getty

In a rare public statement, the couple expressed their deep disappointment with the Murdoch media empire.

“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

There has been a growing chorus of voices calling out Murdoch-owned mastheads for reporting and commentary that downplays manmade climate change’s role in the ferocious fires burning across Australia’s eastern seaboard.

Commentary in Murdoch-owned mastheads – The Australian, the Herald Sun, and The Daily Telegraph – as well as Sky News, has repeatedly included references to climate concerns being “alarmist”.

The Australian has repeatedly argued that this year’s fires are no worse than those of the past – a claim which scientists have slammed as untrue.

Rupert Murdoch said at last year’s annual general meeting there were no climate change deniers in the News Corp ranks. But the words of high-profile commentators printed in the pages of the Murdoch mastheads and spouting denialist views oSky tell a different story.

And Australians, and audiences overseas, are increasingly connecting dots between the rhetoric and misinformation in the Murdoch press and the federal government’s response to the bushfires.

Not everyone on the News Corp payroll is denying climate change, of course. Just the loudest voices, the well paid who are put up in lights.

Staff have told The New Daily about a deep discomfort with the way bushfire stories are being covered.

Just last week, News Corp finance manager Emily Townsend hit out at News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller after he sent a company-wide email spruiking how much the company had been helping bushfire-affected communities.

So far the bushfires have claimed 28 lives, destroyed more than 2000 homes and burnt through more than ten million hectares of land. (12 million Hectares: search for report.)

Ms Townsend had been so “severely impacted by the coverage of News Corp publications in relation to the fires” that she found it “unconscionable to continue working for this company”, she wrote.

Rupert Murdoch with his sons James (right) and Lachlan (left) at a wedding in 2016. Photo: Getty

While the public statement was a rare move by James Murdoch, he has previously distanced himself from the views presented on Fox News.

“There are views I really disagree with on Fox (News),” he told the New Yorker in September last year.

Daily Beast claimed the $9 million in donations by Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp to Australian bushfire relief efforts were only made after the news site contacted them for a response to James’ statement.

An unnamed News Corp executive was quoted as saying the couple was deliberately out to attack the Murdoch family, especially considering James’ older brother, Lachlan, is currently in charge of overseeing the Fox News Channel.

“They are pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual. It’s evidence of how high tensions are within the family over climate change. The majority of people who work here agree with James. We are hoping this may be the tipping point,” the executive said in a statement to The Daily Beast.




In the face of a bushfire catastrophe, our national conversation is still run by politics

A firefighter walks along a road with flames in front of him. Smoke is everywhere.

PHOTO: The Eyre Highway reopened on Friday after being closed for 12 days because of bushfires. (DFES: Evan Collis)

It is apparently OK to canvas the misleading idea that the fires have been primarily caused by arson, or deliberately insufficient hazard reductionwhich experts including NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons have rejected. *

But it apparently isn’t OK to simply say that clearly the climate has changed (even to say that without saying because it’s due to, you know, CLIMATE CHANGE)


In the face of a bushfire catastrophe, our national conversation is still run by politics

7.30 By Laura Tingle

Updated Sat

11 JANUARY 2020

RELATED STORY: Bushfires could kickstart a new crisis for Australia’s rivers

RELATED STORY: ‘The world is utterly perplexed’: As Australia burns, is our reputation at risk?

RELATED STORY: Can Morrison live down his George W Bush moment?RELATED STORY: This has not been Morrison’s finest moment, to put it mildly

The Eyre Highway reopened on Friday after being closed for 12 days because of bushfires.

You might not have driven on the Eyre Highway. But unless you want to take the long route north via Kununurra, it is the only sealed highway linking eastern Australia with Western Australia.

The Kings Highway is expected to be closed for most of January. That’s the highway that links Canberra with the south coast.

Parts of that road are said to have just melted down the steep sides of Clyde Mountain in fires that have burnt virtually all of the bush from Braidwood to Batemans Bay.

Many communities across the country have been told to boil their drinking water because of contamination linked to bushfires — either by ash, such as in Tenterfield, or by the mixing of water supplies during firefighting, as has happened on the NSW south coast.

Dirty water runoff after bushfires in Tenterfield.

PHOTO: Bushfire ash contaminated the runoff after much-needed rain in Tenterfield. (Image supplied; Julie King)

And that’s the case for the communities that have not simply just run out of water.

There are concerns that Sydney’s water supply could be severely affected in months to come if the ash from huge areas of burnt out bush around Warragamba Dam, which provides 80 per cent of Sydney’s water, runs into the dam after heavy rainfall.

The bizarre state of our national conversation

It’s hard to take pictures of closed highways, or compromised water supplies.

But these examples give just some idea of the knock-on effects of fires like those we have seen this catastrophic summer.Can Morrison live down his George W Bush moment?
Scott Morrison has had some perplexing failures of political and policy judgement in recent weeks, writes Laura Tingle.

We are leaving aside, for a moment, the human trauma and loss in fire grounds, and the latest estimate from Australian Academy of Science Fellow, Professor Chris Dickman, that 1 billion animals have now been killed in the bushfires — a figure that includes mammals, birds and reptiles, but not bats, frogs, insects or other invertebrates.

Our political leaders are, so often, so much more comfortable framing crises in economic or national security terms, particularly when traumatised people don’t want to shake their hands.

If it was sabotage that had closed our major arterial highways — like the Eyre or even the Princes Highway down the east coast (as it was in multiple locations for many days) — you can imagine the sort of political rhetoric and hysteria that would have been going on at the moment.

But instead, we continue to have this bizarre situation continuing where a few belligerent types in politics — and very noisy ones in the mediaseem to set the limits of our conversation.

*It is apparently OK to canvas the misleading idea that the fires have been primarily caused by arson, or deliberately insufficient hazard reductionwhich experts including NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons have rejected. *

But it apparently isn’t OK to simply say that clearly the climate has changed (even to say that without saying because it’s due to, you know, climate change).

A single joey lost in burnt bushland

PHOTO: There are estimates that one billion animals have now been killed in the bushfires. (Supplied: Ryan Pollock)

When an issue is not an issue

Climate change as a possible linkage with the fires is sometimes referred to as “issues”, or even “issues contributing to the event”.

Sometimes the bushfires are boldly linked to the drought (which of course, may just also be linked to “issues”).

10 years of climate policy inertia
Ten years ago one man’s plan blew apart Australia’s two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.

The Prime Minister hit the airwaves on Thursday night and Friday morning, talking about the various measures the Government has put in place in the last week or so, including calling out Defence Force reservists and $2 billion of funding (various) for bushfire relief.

It’s hard not to listen to these interviews though, and get the sense that he is rattling off an alibi; that he remains on the defensive.

On Melbourne radio on Friday, for example, he was asked whether this might be the new normal — very long fire seasons, affecting many different parts of the country — which might require a new permanent mechanism to deal with it

These were obviously issues to be considered, Scott Morrison said.

“I mean, we stood this [the ADF reservists] up last Saturday,” he responded.

VIDEO: Scott Morrison defends the Government’s response to the bushfires (7.30)

“We had it moving several days before. We’d actually run a trial process for the call out back in November to ensure that we were in a position to be able to roll that out should that become necessary. And it did become necessary.

“I mean, the scale of these fires going across two very large jurisdictions reached an unprecedented level and that required an unprecedented response at that time and one was delivered and delivered very quickly.”

Shockwaves keep going wider

The economic impact of these fires has not been limited this time around to people who have lost homes or businesses, or even small communities.

Vast swathes of coastal NSW and Victoria have lost their most lucrative trading seasons. They have often also been cut for days, by road, telecommunications and power.

Morrison’s fires response has put his political judgement in question
Within the Government, there is widespread acknowledgement that Scott Morrison’s Midas touch has gone missing, writes David Speers.

Businesses in towns like Braidwood and Bungendore, which have long prospered on the holiday traffic from Canberra to the coast, say their streets are like ghost towns.

The newly appointed recovery coordinator for southern NSW, retired deputy police commissioner Dick Adams, told a local paper this week: “Eden has lost their mill, Mt Selwyn has lost their whole resort, softwood plantations in Tumut, dairy in Bega, apple orchards in Batlow…

“What we’ve found, is when bushfire is impacting these areas and people are evacuated out, some may not return. We need to work to get people back.”

There is some emergency financial assistance from the Federal Government for people who have lost everything, and grants to local governments who have to repair roads. And state governments provide some low interest loans for small businesses in trouble.

But the shockwaves keep going wider.

Even in Canberra, where luckily fires haven’t yet hit, hotels are reporting that around 15 per cent of bookings for January have been cut because the national capital has become infamous for literally having the worst air quality in the world thanks to bushfire smoke.

Chairlift destroyed by fire

PHOTO: Mt Selwyn’s slopes were barely recognisable after being gutted by fire. (Facebook: Andrew Newton)

A royal commission is pretty convenient

The point here is to simply document how these fires are affecting all sorts of aspects of our lives way beyond the terror they represent up close.

And that means they are also changing our political conversation, on everything from the environment to the role of government.

How climate change has impacted the world since your childhood
Global warming is already changing the world before our eyes — let’s see what has happened in your lifetime, and what’s in store for your future.

The Prime Minister has suggested there might be royal commission into all we can learn from these fires, including their causes, though of course he has not actually locked into calling one.

Excuse the cynicism, but doesn’t a possible royal commission — whatever its ultimate virtues — provide the perfect response in the short term for any question you don’t want to answer?

SmoCo sneaks home amid the ashes of his government

Photo: Macro Business

For example, “well that will be a matter for the royal commission to determine”.

A Government that has held on, at great cost to rational policy making, to a budget surplus now stuck together with sticky tape, will at least have an honourable reason to not meet its surplus target if it does actually start spending money because of our burning summer.

But the sort of ripple effects we are talking about here on the economy suggest very tough times ahead for the country as a whole — with the only really obvious positive a fire-led building boom.

The economy and national security are supposed to be the Coalition’s strong points.

Yet even in the face of a catastrophe that shows our infrastructure vulnerable, and the economy under threat, we are still overwhelmed with political management.

Laura Tingle is 7.30’s chief political correspondent.

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

A single joey lost in burnt bushland




NEWS CORP Employee lashes MURDOCH reporting of Bushfires

News Corp's coverage of the Australian bushfire crisis has received attention from around the world.

News Corp’s coverage of the Australian bushfire crisis has received attention from around the world.CREDIT:NICK MOIR

HERE’s what some commentators had to say!


I’m surprised that state governments haven’t acted to curb News Corp i rresponsibility. Australian states are treated no better than South American countries by this American libertarian agency. Not only do they engage in character assassination of anyone leading positive change, we can now see they deliberately frustrate state governance, seed false arguments and destroy community wellbeing. This is an emergency, the planet and our capacity to transform human behaviour is at stake.

Mary-Anne Well said Paul. That self-entitled evil old man and his corrupt spawn should have the numbers 666 stamped on their foreheads. Australian citizens should demand the re-introduction of media concentration laws because no single person/organisation should ever be allowed to exert so much influence/manipulation over the national conversation. He has succeeded in stiffling important debate and dividing this nation by promoting tribalism rather than sensible rational discussion.

Brian You are forgetting how beholden our state and federal governments are to Rupert Murdoch and their dependence on him for re-election. We no longer have a free press in this country with the domination of News Corp.

Kate Thank you Emily Townsend. If only Murdoch journalists had your strength of character. They could join forces against their errant bosses. Surely they couldn’t all be sacked?

Belinda Maybe we should start a GoFundMe to financially liberate any News Corp reporters and staff who want to speak out. I think it would go nuts, imagine if even half the staff could quit and speak out without fear of losing their income. Imagine the truth that could come out. I think it would spread throughout other News Corp owned countries.

The email was highly critical of News Corp’s reporting.

Samantha Dick

Samantha Dick Reporter


A News Corp employee has slammed the organisation for spreading “climate change denial and lies” through “irresponsible” and “dangerous reporting” on Australia’s catastrophic bushfires.

In an email, obtained by The New Daily, Emily Townsend, a commercial finance manager at the company, hit out at executive chairman Michael Miller after he sent a company-wide email talking up all the ways News Corp is helping communities affected by the bushfire crisis.

In the email addressed to Mr Miller, which was was distributed to all News Corp Australia staff, Ms Townsend said she was grateful for the company’s fundraising efforts, but added that it did “not offset the impact News Corp reporting has had over the last few weeks”.

I have been severely impacted by the coverage of News Corp publications in relation to the fires, in particular the misinformation campaign that has tried to divert attention away from the real issue which is climate change to focus on arson (including misrepresenting facts),” Ms Townsend wrote.

I find it unconscionable to continue working for this company, knowing I am contributing to the spread of climate change denial and lies.”

The email was reportedly deleted from New Corp staff inboxes within an hour of it being sent.

A copy of Ms Townsend’s email obtained by The New Daily.

Four hours later on Friday afternoon, News Corp issued a statement to The New Daily on behalf of Mr Miller.

The statement claimed Ms Townsend had resigned in December and was due to leave News Corp shortly.

“We respect Ms Townsend’s right to hold her views, but we do not agree with them,” the statement reads.

“Our coverage has recognised that Australia is having a serious conversation about climate change and how to respond to it,” it said.

“However, it has also reflected there are a variety of views and opinions about the current fire crisis. The role of arsonists and policies that may have contributed to the spread of fire are, therefore, legitimate stories to report in the public interest.

“Contrary to what some critics have argued, News Corp does not deny climate change or the gravity of its threat. However, we – as is the traditional role of a publisher – do report a variety of views and opinions on the issue and many others that are important in the public discourse on the fires.”

Rupert Murdoch’s influential newspapers and television stations have been widely criticised in recent weeks for spreading misinformation about climate change during Australia’s out-of-control bushfires.

The Australian has repeatedly argued that this year’s fires are no worse than those of the past – a claim which scientists have slammed as untrue.

Ms Townsend’s decision to write a damning letter condemning News Corp’s coverage has been welcomed by some current and former employees of the company.

The New Daily is aware of a growing discomfort among News Corp employees with how reporting on the crisis is being handled.

While afraid to speak openly for fear of reprisals from the company, some News Corp employees were quietly cheering their colleague’s stance.

One current employee described it as “huge”, while another said it was “amazing”.

“We’re all pretty thrilled,” another current news reporter said.

So far, more than 12 million acres have burned, and more of New South Wales has been burned in 2019 alone than the previous 15 years combined.

This week, an independent study also found online bots and trolls had been exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian that made similar claims started trending on the newspaper’s website.

murdoch news corp bushfire




I’m Scotty the Marketing Man …

Image may contain: text

Mark David Cartoons: 5 January 2020

From a CAAN Contributor, JV …

I’m Scotty the Marketing man
I’m lying as hard as I can
I’ll say I’m terrific
But I’m never specific
I’m your useless, Narcissistic PM
Toot toot.

(sung to Popeye the Sailor Man )

There once was a PM called Scotty
Whose actions in Govt were….. spotty
When asked what he did
He said “I just fib!”
I’m Scotty the Marketing Wally.




https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress…Mark David CartoonsJanuary 5 at 8:37 AM · 

‘Climate denier’ MP Craig Kelly roasted on British TV

Craig Kelly was slammed by the hosts of Good Morning Britain.Photo: Twitter

AUSTRALIA’s putrid politics … can it be any uglier? 

MORE about this MP … so you can see where he is coming from … what’s in it for him ?

Chinese gas deal: National security concerns could be eased if it invests in local market, argues Liberal MP

September 2018

Federal LNP MP Craig Kelly DESPITE conceding the national security concerns being raised were well founded has suggested that if Australia sells off our gas pipelines to the Chinese it will enable expansion… BIZARRE!

Of course the Chinese would like to gain control of our gas resources … they have our Ports!

The Liberals Religious Right

September 2018

These days Washer’s old environment committee is run by Craig Kelly, a Christian conservative, climate sceptic and coal advocate with no scientific background. The seat Washer used to represent, Moore, is now held by Ian Goodenough, a pillar of Globalheart, a Pentecostal church that has deeply infiltrated the Liberal Party in the west.

SCOMO’s Fixer offered Craig Kelly’s challenger a $350,000 Party job to drop out … PART 1

Liberal MP Craig Kelly was saved from a humiliating preselection defeat by the PM’s intervention.

LABOR asks AFP to investigate $350,000 job offer to Craig Kelly preselection Challenger … PART 2

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed on Thursday that Mr Briggs had offered Sutherland Shire councillor Kent Johns a $350,000 job for six months’ work as the Liberals’ federal campaign director in NSW, on the understanding he would withdraw from the contest against Mr Kelly.

Labor senator Don Farrell, the shadow special minister of state, wrote to AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin on Friday asking him to investigate the matter “to protect the integrity of our democracy”, arguing the job offer could be considered a bribe. …

 Mr Briggs acknowledged Mr Kelly could “bring down the government” if he did not get his way, and that Mr Kelly “holds the power”.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly wants Family Home included in Pension Asset Test

July 2019

LABOR has demanded the Prime Minister rule out including the family home in the pension test or delaying the super guarantee after Liberal MP Craig Kelly called for a fresh debate.

‘Climate denier’ MP Craig Kelly roasted on British TV

Craig Kelly was slammed by the hosts of Good Morning Britain.Photo: Twitter

The New Daily

The New Daily@TheNewDailyAU


Senior Liberal MP Craig Kelly has come under fire over his climate denial in a trainwreck interview on morning television in the UK.

As deadly fires continue burning across the south and east of Australia, Mr Kelly was fronting Good Morning Britain to defend the Prime Minister and his own comments about climate change, oil and coal.

It comes after Mr Kelly told the BBC on Saturday that fires were a result of “drying” of the environment but that Australian scientists had disproved any link between climate change and drought.

  • Read Tuesday morning’s bushfire latest here

While Scott Morrison has stressed in recent days there is “no dispute” about the impact of global warming, Mr Kelly has doubled down on his comments while under questioning from Good Morning Britain hosts, saying the bushfire crisis was due to a lack of hazard reduction burning.

The backbencher was called a “disgrace” and told to “wake up”.

“To try to make out as some politicians have to hijack this debate, exploit this tragedy and push their ideological barrow, that somehow or another the Australian government could have done something by reducing its carbon emissions that would have reduced these bushfires is just complete nonsense,” Mr Kelly hit back.

Good Morning Britain@GMB

Craig Kelly MP defends Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to the wildfire crisis and says there isn’t a link between climate change and bushfires.@piersmorgan | @susannareid100 | #GMB1,5258:24 PM – Jan 6, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy1,541 people are talking about this

The show’s weather presenter Laura Tobin slammed Mr Kelly as “not a climate sceptic” but a “climate denier”.

“Australia have just had in 2019 their highest year temperature-wise ever recorded and their driest year ever record with forecast temperatures that go back over 100 years,” Tobin said.

“At the moment we want everyone to commit in the world to be one-and-a-half degrees to lower our global temperature rise. You can’t even commit to two degrees.

Good Morning Britain@GMB

Laura Tobin takes on climate change sceptic and Australian MP Craig Kelly, who believes global warming was not the cause of the Australian bushfires.

Watch here – @Lauratobin1 #Australia

View image on Twitter

904:30 AM – Jan 7, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy50 people are talking about this

“You have the second-highest carbon emission per person on Earth and you are burying your head in the sand … this is a climate emergency.”

Defending the PM’s controversial Hawaii holiday, Mr Kelly said, “The only thing the national leader can actually do on this is basically wait until he gets response from those state premiers asking more resources”.

“Any time one of those state premiers has come forward and said we need something, the Prime Minister has done that – he’s shown leadership.”

Host Piers Morgan hit back, describing Mr Morrison’s disaster response as a “dereliction of his duty as leader of Australia”.

“The truth is, he was absent when the fires were burning. Scott Morrison thought the right response to these fires erupting in Australia was to go lie on the beach in Hawaii,” Morgan said.




The year of living feebly: how did we all become so pathetic?

BY NOW … it should be obvious that those in charge are not going to step up unless we step up too.

IN the lead up to new-year’s-resolution time, perhaps ask yourself:

When was the last time you went to a protest?

-When was the last time you called your local MP?

Do you have investments, and if so, have you considered their impact on the issues that you care about? –

Of course, none of these acts by themselves will change the world. But if we all think that way, the world won’t change.

The year of living feebly: how did we all become so pathetic?

Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly

Columnist and former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

December 28, 2019

View all comments

And so a new year is about to begin. Scandals will come. Public figures will lose their jobs. Policy debates will flare and disappear.

At the end, will anything be very different?

Let’s backtrack first. The week before Christmas was a busy time for political observers. The American President was impeached. Boris Johnson passed his Brexit bill.

Scott Morrison returned from Hawaii. So it took a lot to turn my head.

Illustration: John Shakespeare
Illustration: John ShakespeareCREDIT:

And yet still I found my head turned, and my eyes widened, at one comparatively minor item.

The Business Council of Australia was about to lodge its submission ahead of next year’s federal budget, and had decided to call, again, for cuts to the company tax rate.

*I’m sorry, what? Just that week, hadn’t Google agreed to pay almost half a billion dollars in back taxes, some of them dating back to 2008? And wasn’t this the latest in a string of similar cases? At the end of a year in which we’d discovered that some of Australia’s largest, richest companies – like Woolworths – had been stealing wages from their employees?

*Had it even been a month since the CEO of Westpac was forced to resign after allegations that his bank had effectively facilitated child abuse? I checked. Respectively: yep, yep, yep, and no it hadn’t even been a month.

Impressive hubris, huh? Now, I understand this is a budget submission, and the whole point is to suggest what government might do differently. But even if I could see my way clear to ignoring the hubris, as well as the evidence suggesting a company tax cut won’t do any of the things business says it will, what I can’t get out of my mind is how utterly feeble this is.

At the end of a year in which it became obvious that many of Australia’s largest businesses are not running what you’d call a tight ship – or even what you’d call a moderately loose dinghy their response was to ask government to fix their problems for them.

*Now, let me take a swerve that’s not really a swerve. A lot has been written recently about the prime minister’s insistence that Australia’s contribution to global emissions is small, and therefore unimportant. A lot of analogies have been marshalled – imagine if we all said the same thing about picking up rubbish etc – and underpinning them all is the suggestion that Morrison’s stance is the very definition of selfish.

It is, but it’s also worse than that. Recently, the former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne described such attitudes as “helplessness”, and I think that’s a good start. But increasingly I’ve found myself thinking it’s worse still.

The government admits Australia has a problem in the form of climate change. It concedes – sometimes – the havoc that climate change is causing.

In other words, it’s not just that it can’t fix the problem. The inevitable conclusion to the government’s logic is that it desperately wants someone else to fix it. By doing nothing, Australia is not just being selfish, or helpless. Instead, it’s some awful combination of both, entitled and pathetic at once. We can’t fix this on our own, boohoo, don’t expect us to do anything, now hurry up the rest of you and fix this mess.

While we’re on climate change, here’s another argument that keeps popping up. Energy minister Angus Taylor recently returned from Madrid, where he helped derail the chance of an international climate agreement.

Specifically, he spent his time there arguing that the loophole Australia has been using to argue it’s doing its bit on climate change – it’s not – should be kept in place. Or in other words: we got away with it last time, we should be able to get away with it again.

By now, Scott Morrison has said an awful lot about his trip to Hawaii, so you probably missed what for me was the most stunning moment in his apology tour. The problem, as you know, was not just that he left the country, but that he tried to keep it secret. Here was one of his attempts at justification: “I took leave in June as well and we did follow exactly the same practice.” But this was really just another way of making Taylor’s argument: “I got away with it last time, so you can’t really blame me for expecting to get away with it again.”


Hillville fire reflects on water during NSW bushfire emergency. 12 November 2019. Photo Dean Sewell

East coast bushfires: ‘a mongrel of a thing’

If that sounds familiar, it might be because it’s the same argument the government has been using to justify the fact it’s done very little since being re-elected. When the government is asked what else it might be planning, its routine response – presented as a matter of honour – is that it will do exactly what it said before the election, no less and certainly no more.

In July, when MPs were pushing for a change to Newstart, Morrison told them to be “mindful of what we took to the election and what we didn’t take to the election”. Just after his ‘miracle win’, he said this on energy: “There’s no change to our policies there. What I took to the election is what I’m going to do.”

In other words: we got away with it in 2019, we’ll get away with it again. The biggest question after the election was whether the prime minister really believed that. Seven months on, we’re still wondering.

I wonder if one clue to our future might come from Britain. The soundly defeated Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, recently wrote that his party had “won the argument” even though it lost the election. At first I thought this idiotic. But on reflection I found myself agreeing with my former colleague, John McTernan – no Corbyn fan – who wrote in the Financial Times that Corbyn had a point. On austerity, and particularly on health spending, the Tories ended up moving a long way in Labour’s direction.

British Labour might take heart from this. But it should also be terrified, because if the Tories manage to steal its political territory, while retaining their traditional strengths, then Labour won’t be left with many moves.

In Australia, there’s much speculation about whether Morrison will act on climate next year. I suspect he will, and the fairly weak action he takes (presented as a “balanced” approach) will box Labor in ever more tightly – though there is also a chance he’ll leave climate alone, and follow Johnson more directly on health and education.

And what about Labor’s direction next year? Here, too, international events might provide a model. If the US Democrats choose Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders as their presidential candidate, and one of them loses to Donald Trump, then Labor’s resolve to tack towards the centre will be strengthened.

Some Labor MPs, home for Christmas, will no doubt have heard complaints that the newish leader has not cut through. My feeling is that such complaints, this early, are not cause for concern. I wrote recently that Albanese seems to have settled into his role, and his decisions during the Hawaiian boilover – when to attack and when not to – were well pitched.

CAAN: WATCH ABC AND SBS NEWS REPORTS TO FOLLOW WHAT IS HAPPENING … to view what the Labor Opposition including Albo have to say … Today Albo questioned why the Scomo and Berejiklian Govts response has been so poor concerning the continuing Fire Crisis across the Nation!

Albanese questioned the ‘ethos’ of volunteering when

-these firefighters have to put food on the table; pay their mortgage/rent etc with fire storms happening since August 2019!

-that they must be paid

-that more funds need to be found urgently to provide the equipment to fight the fires

IS THAT WHY … there was no video on the ABC NEWS OR SBS NEWS FACEBOOK PAGES?

SK: Still, the most important factor will be whether Morrison gives him material to oppose. Either way, I’m expecting the contest between the two men to become more personal. Labor seems recently to have realised it is up against the prime minister, not his party.

I began this column by calling out both business and government for their feebleness. I’m sure many of you spent at least some time over your prawns or turkey expressing frustration at our leaders. That’s fair enough. But it also risks repeating their mistakes: blindly hoping someone else will fix things for us.


Scott Marsh painted this mural of Scott Morrison on a wall in the Sydney suburb of Chippendale.

A look back the darkness and din that was 2019

*This is tricky ground, I know, because by focusing on ordinary citizens you risk letting those with power off the hook. And so perhaps the answer lies in combining the two, by asking what the rest of us can do to hold those with power responsible.

*And so, in the lead up to new-year’s-resolution time, perhaps ask yourself: when was the last time you went to a protest? When was the last time you called your local MP? Do you have investments, and if so, have you considered their impact on the issues that you care about? Of course, none of these acts by themselves will change the world. But if we all think that way, the world won’t change.

I don’t write this from moral high ground. I could do much more. I write this partly to remind myself. But we have to face the fact that Australia has had a long, long run of luck. That has allowed us to get away with a lot, but the fact we got away with things in the past doesn’t mean we’ll get away with them forever.

At the end of this year, will anything be different? Business pretends it’s up to government. Government pretends it’s up to the rest of the world. And us? By now, it should be obvious that those in charge are not going to step up unless we step up too.

Sean Kelly is a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. He is currently working from London.

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard

Illustration: John Shakespeare