The recent Australian elections represent a significant set-back for climate sanity within Australia and represent a serious step backward when it comes to climate change issues in the Anglophone world. Now, two major Commonwealth nations (Canada, Australia) are governed by political parties that are lock-step with fossil fuel extraction industries and the Australian government seems well down a path toward censoring it scientists as is going on in Canada (and Canadian scientists fighting back …).
There are a myriad of reasons for what happened in Australia. Climate denialists and other anti-clean energy voices are strongly leaning forward to assert that the primary reason for the change of government was rejection of carbon pricing. While the path to that carbon pricing was messier than it should (could) have been, there is a rather interesting dynamic: polling prior to and after the election does not support assertions that carbon pricing was a primary player in the election results.
voters were probably not sending a message about carbon policy. Only 37 percent of Australians support eliminating the carbon tax and replacing it with the policies of Abbott and the Coalition. The tax didn’t even break voters’ top three concerns, with those spots going to concerns about the economy, asylum seekers, and health care. In fact, most Australians think the country’s climate policies should remain the same or stronger.
Instead, voter antipathy toward the center-left government may be rooted in an aversion to political hypocrisy and broken promises. Leaders of the Labor Party, including former PM Julia Gillard, previously promised there would be no carbon tax, then flipped on the issue and instated one any way. A reporter for The Guardian’s Australian edition noted that the Labor Party was thrown out of power because for voters, it “became an issue of her [former PM's] credibility really rather than carbon pricing.”
The Coalition’s complaint that everyone wants to get rid of the carbon tax is not backed up by the numbers.
The issue that seems to have resonated was the twisted path to the carbon pricing … not the existence of such a program. (E.g., ‘character’ rather than ‘policy’ swayed Australian voters …)
Yet, whether listening to the new Australian Prime Minister, the climate denialist/anti-clean energy world, and a huge share of the media world, carbon pricing was central to the election results. In a sense, they are right — the results of the election will have a detrimental impact on Australia’s climate policy even if the majority of Australians understand that climate change is a reality, a reality impacting Australia already, and a reality that will have ever more devastating impact on their nation.
Missed, for so many, in discussions about the Australian election is a simple reality: MMfA or Media Mattered for Australia.
Murdoch’s News Corp is the dominant voice in Australian media.
Ownership of national and the newspapers of each capital city are dominated by two corporations, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, (which was founded in Adelaide but is now based from the United States) and John Fairfax Holdings – Murdoch-owned titles account for nearly two-thirds (64.2 per cent) of metropolitan circulation and Fairfax-owned papers account for a further quarter (26.4 per cent).
What if 2/3rds of U.S. metropolitan circulation were Wall Street Journal editorial line and worse?
That is, in fact, what is going on in Australia and the Murdoch empire went all out to change the electorate.
The undue influence of News Corps on Australia’s political dynamic(s) is hard to exaggerate.
Media Mattered for Australia … and the rest of us.
Denial … I’m in denial
When I see those eco-nazis, I raise my arm and shout Sieg Heil
I’m in denial … deep in denial
And as the waters rise around me I’ll just hold my breath and say
It isn’t so
Those fires are not raging, No floods deluge the land
Those hurricanes and tornadoes are just flashes in the pan
The animals are doing fine, No species dying out
And half the bloody climate isn’t choking in drought
The ice is not receding, from either polar cap
I’d go with Tony Abbott, It’s just a load of crap
This round-the-world disaster is an evil greedy trap
‘Cause everybody knows the world is flat
PS: Another Canada and Australia linkage: they are both nations being hit by significant climate impacts on a more accelerated pace than many other regions/nations of the world. The Canadian Arctic is melting and Australia has been (seemingly) oscillating between burning (and burning and burning and …) and flooding (and flooding and …).