Michael Pascoe: How Murdoch’s myrmidons murdered climate policy_1

“The Murdoch media, determined to remove the Labor government at any cost, mounted a savage war on the science of climate change and the structural reforms that needed to be undertaken,” wrote former Labor Treasurer Wayne Swan in a 2017 article and reprised this week on Twitter.

It’s an important insight as it suggests an answer to the mystery of the Murdoch media’s rabid climate denialism in Australia – a campaign by our biggest newspaper company that has both enabled and goaded the troglodyte end of the Coalition to make Australia a world leader in fighting carbon reduction, in worsening our changed climate.

Without the on-going Murdoch campaign promoting climate disinformation and sheer lunacy, it’s hard to imagine any government being able to persist with its cynical twisting of emissions policy, never mind outright lies.

If all major Australian media played the climate issue straight, a denialist government couldn’t survive.

Well, not all the journalists are to blame. Many happily play along as part of the cozy relationship they enjoy with the Coalition government, serving as cheer squad and attack dogs.

Wayne Swan’s article was penned days after Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, fessed up to the weaponisation of climate policy for purely political ends. Swan quoted Credlin’s Sky News words:

“It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax. We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics …”

“Brutal retail politics” – that means whatever it takes to win, abandon all principles and damn the collateral damage, in this case the economic, environmental and social costs of third-rate domestic climate policy.

The Murdoch media climbed aboard, using all the various shades of climate change scepticism and denialism to back Minchin/Abbott, attack Turnbull and Labor and support Scott Morrison.

The campaign has been highly successful, making Australia one of only two major countries where action to limit climate change is a left-versus-right issue. Internationally, Australia works with the likes of Saudi Arabia and Brazil to sabotage necessary emissions reductions.

That’s the cost of Murdoch’s myrmidons installing the political leaders and governments of their master’s choice.