Climate Change

Australia’s bushfire dystopia – another entry for the neoliberal report card

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/01/2020 - 9:04am in

I decided that I would run the CFA Franc series in three consecutive parts to maintain continuity and allow me to edit the final manuscript which Pluto Press will use to finalise the book by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla. That meant that my usual Wednesday snippets sort of blog post didn’t happen this week. So, given that I have to travel for several hours today, Thursday becomes Wednesday and I just want to write a few comments about the current crisis in Australia (from the perspective of someone who has done considerable research for the United Firefighters Union here over many years) and also announce the details of the first MMTed Masterclass to be held in central London in February. I will be in Adelaide for the sustainability conference and other commitments over the next few days.

Australia’s crisis

It is hard to feel any further shame about my nationality than I already do given the way that we have allowed successive Australian governments to indefinitely imprison innocent refugees on Pacific Islands over many years now.

These people were seeking shelter from oppression and turmoil, much of it sourced, initially, by the fact that our governments decided to play ball with the disgusting and illegal invasions of various nations (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc) by the Americans.

There is a deep cultural insecurity in Australia where we seem to think that anything American is to be celebrated and prioritised over our own identity and capacities.

That ‘cultural cringe’ cuts across all areas of our lives – political, cultural and educational. We need to grow up.

In the 1960s, our Prime Minister was asked to summarise our foreign policy. He replied “All the way with LBJ”!

In 1999, various media outlets started referring to our Prime Minister (then John Howard) as America’s deputy sheriff in reference to our compliance in joining the US military activity, mostly illegal in the region. Howard never denied or disabused the use of the term.

It was deeply embarrassing for an independent nation but we still went along with the Americans.

Here we were, like a lap dog, joining illegal ventures at the dictates of a crazy character like Bill Clinton and then George W Bush.

We should have lauded our independence and our own confidence to resist the US imperialist culture and the cult of the celebrity.

All very shameful.

But, that level of shame has risen in recent years, as it becomes obvious that our government is leading a climate change denial cabal, which is undermining global efforts to fast track reasonable responses to the crisis.

For some years now, I have been undertaking commissioned research projects for the United Firefighters Union on a range of different issues.

I like to think that as a result of that work I have a fairly good understanding of the sector, its challenges, and the risks that our communities face in this context.

If people in the wider population really understood how vulnerable we have become in terms of protection from fire as a result of government austerity then the sense of alarm would be massive.

We calculate response rate and damage quotients and are able to fairly accurately compute when the damage moves from minor to serious property losses to human losses.

Response rates are driven by the investment in infrastructure and skill development, and numbers of firefighters able to be deployed quickly.

I’ve written before about the myopia of neoliberalism (for example):

1. Mental illness and homelessness – fiscal myopia strikes again (January 5, 2016).

2. British floods demonstrate the myopia of fiscal austerity (January 4, 2016).

3. The myopia of fiscal austerity (June 10, 2015).

4. The myopia of neo-liberalism and the IMF is now evident to all (October 8, 2014).

There are countless examples throughout this neoliberal era where governments, seeking to reduce their net spending, in order to run surpluses without regard to whether that ambition is appropriate given the non-government spending and saving decisions, end up having to increase their net spending by multiples of the amounts initially reduced as a result of the impacts of those initial reductions.

My own research for the UFU over many years has indicated a substantial underfunding of fire services.

The federal government, which issues the currency, always sheets home the blame for any issues like this to the state governments, which according to our Constitution, assume most of the spending responsibilities within our nation.

However, it is obvious that the federal government can always increase grants to the states to fund essential national infrastructure.

So, ultimately, the underfunding of essential services such as fire protection comes down to the failure of our federal government.

Both sides of politics in Australia are obsessed with obtaining a fiscal surplus, even though they have no comprehension of what that goal actually means in terms of its impact on the overall economy.

It is a mindless pursuit of ignorant men and women who are blindly devoted to their own image and maintaining power.

It is now clear, that delegations of experts in the fire sector, including former fire chiefs at the state level, sought extra funding from the federal government in early 2019 on the pretext that Australia was facing a disastrous immediate future as a result of a long-term drought, which had left our forests and grasslands dry and vulnerable.

As I understand it, the Prime Minister refused to meet with them.

It was clear from as early as winter, when the bushfires began, that something unprecedented was ahead. Our bushfire season is typically in February (at the end of summer) not during winter.

The government didn’t respond to those early season bushfires, which then progressively became worse until almost the whole country is ablaze.

Millions of animals have been burned alive. Their habitat destroyed. An unknown but huge number of houses have been destroyed and in some cases towns wiped out.

The whole town has had to seek shelter on the beach and wait to be rescued by Navy vessels as their town burned and ran out of essential items such as food and water.

Here they are waiting:

Millions of hectares of bushland have been destroyed.

It’s estimated that the regrowth might take 100 odd years given how dry our nation has become and how ferocious these fires have been as a result.

The Conservative government keeps saying that Australia always has bushfires. But it’s very hard, for anyone who understands our history, to match the current disaster.

When the bushfires began, the federal government made a huge thing of criticising anyone who dared link the disaster with the climate change debate.

Their agenda has been clearly to deny any climate change and to refuse appropriate policy action.

While I know all the arguments about data trends and the fact that data has only been available for so long, so extrapolating from a limited (hundreds of years) dataset might be fraught, the fact remains that 2019 was a record-breaking year for weather extremes in Australia.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported that (Source):

1. “There has been a clear upward trend in average temperatures over the past century.”

2. “it was the first time an annual anomaly had been two degrees above average.”

3. “It was also Australia’s driest year on record, with only 277.6 millimetres of rain for the country on average, 40 per cent less than the long-term average.”

4. “Dry years are often hot because rain cools things down, but this is the first time a year has been both the hottest and driest on record.”

5. “Major flooding from February to April across western Queensland brought relief to some and devastation to many.”

6. “dust storm after dust storm swept across the country along with a number of storm storms that caused havoc — from wrecking the vineyards of South Australia’s Riverland to pelting down 11-centimetre hail in Queensland’s Wide Bay region.”

7. “The south-east of the country was even sprinkled with snow at one point.”

8. “January was plagued by heatwaves, making it Australia’s hottest month on record.”

9. “Fires burned through Tasmania for weeks, resulting in the state’s worst fire season since 1967.”

10. “There were also major blazes in Victoria and Western Australia early in the year, only for that devastation to be eclipsed by the recent horror fires.”

11. “On December 17 and then 18, Australia surpassed its hottest day on record — the 19th only missed out on the hat-trick by a whisker.”

They link these extreme shifts in our weather to “very-well-defined and clear trends … that we’ve seen over the past seeral decades.

On February 9, 2017, our Prime Minister who was then Treasurer brought a lump of coal into the national parliament as a statement of support for the fossil fuel industry and a indication that he rejected any climate change narratives.

Here he is, in full mindless mode:

And his colleagues on the front bench thought it was hysterical:

The government keeps saying that even if there was climate change occurring, Australia should not act in any significant way because we are too small to influence the overall outcome and therefore would only damage our economy.

The argument, of course, has no moral value.

But, it is also clear that our position, for example, at the recent United Nations climate change conference in Madrid, was a disgrace.

Not only did our government seek to cheat the process through the use of an accounting loophole to meet our climate target, we also combined with the US and Brazil to thwart progress at the meeting.

And then, our forests and towns really started to burn.

So we have a scientifically ignorant government, who refuses to use its fiscal capacity in a responsible way, and the result is massive destruction across our nation.

The government, ultimately for political reasons, will be dragged into the recovery process and will be forced to outlay billions of dollars as a result.

The media is already banging on about how this will jeopardise the fiscal surplus.

The fiscal surplus aim was always irresponsible given we have more than 13.5 per cent of our willing and able labour resources idle.

The media should learn that first and stop holding out the fiscal surplus as being some reasonable policy target that is just been made impossible to achieve because of the massive environmental and civil disaster brought on by the bushfires.

We should understand that the scale of the environmental and civil disaster, is in part, due to the pursuit of the fiscal surplus and the underfunding of environmental programs and fire protection.

In that sense, the federal government has acted in a criminal manner.

There has also been an outpouring of offers of financial assistance from various well-known people, which get headlines in the local media each day.

One almost gets the impression, in a similar vein to what happened after the fire at Notre Dame in Paris, that these ‘celebrities’ into some sort of competition as to who can offer the most.

We are also exhorted daily by the media to donate to various charities to help the recovery process.

The problem is a vexed one.

On the one hand, the financial assistance will probably provide some relief, although the lack of accountability in some cases raises doubts as to the effectiveness of the funds.

On the other hand, it lets the government off the hook.

One of the hallmarks of the neoliberal era has been the rise of charities to fill the spending gaps left by the withdrawal of the state as they pursue fiscal rectitude.

The government offers a smoke screen that isn’t it wonderful that the citizens of all demonstrating their generosity at times of crisis, while at the same time undermining the capacity of the communities to deal with crisis through their pursuit of mindless fiscal austerity.

So the act of private donations really takes the pressure off the government to use its fiscal capacity appropriately, and, often just shuffles funds from those in need to others in need, under the guise of community generosity.

It’s not an easy thing to discuss or to solve.

And in the cities, it has come to this.

Yesterday, the smoke pollution in Newcastle was so bad that I had to put on a P2 Mask (we purchased a whole box) to go for my early morning 10k run around the ocean front.

I have never had to do that.

Life in this environmental dystopia.

MMTed Masterclass – London, February 22, 2019

As part of the MMTed initiative, I am holding an MMT Masterclass in London on Saturday, February 22, 2019.

The class will run from 14:00 to 17:00.

The syllabus will be covering basic MMT concepts and the material will be accessible to all. However, it will be an academic-oriented presentation meaning that I want to advance educational goals as a priority.

The Masterclass will be held at:

2Northdown
2 Northdown Street, King’s Cross
London, N1 9BG

https://www.2northdown.com/about

This is a small venue in the heart of heart of King’s Cross, London.

There is space for 65 people to attend.

The venue has a licensed bar for refreshments. No catering will be provided by MMTed.

Here is a map to guide you to the venue:

There will be a small charge – £5 – for attendance, which will help cover the costs of the venue hire.

Tickets can be purchased via the eventbrite site in the coming week.

Alternatively, if you wish to secure a spot in advance, you can write to me and I will send you details of how to pay and guarantee a seat.

Sustainability Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, January 10-12, 2020

I will be speaking at the Sustainability Conference on Friday and Saturday but have other commitments during those days as well.

On Friday afternoon, I will be engaged in discussion: “Why MMT Is Good for All Workers”, which is a public event hosted by Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union.

I was invited by the AUWU to discuss how Modern Monetary Theory can help the Australian working class movement advance its interests.

The event will take place at the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) offices at 47 King William Rd, Unley, South Australia.

It will be held on Friday, 10 January 2020 from 16:30-18:30.

I urge all those concerned with this topic to attend.

February 2020 – European and UK Speaking and Lecture Tour

Here is my current schedule for February in Europe and the UK.

The ‘tba’ listings mean either I haven’t agreed yet to current proposals to speak or that the day is free of events so far.

If anyone wants to organise and event or set up a meeting, then please contact me and we will see what is possible.

  • Monday, February 03, 2020 – Speaking on ‘What is the meaning of political economy today?’ at Think Corner, Helsinki – 17:00 to 19:00
  • Tuesday, February 04, 2020 – Teaching, University of Helsinki – 16.15-17.45, Porthania P674 – all lectures are public.
  • Wednesday, February 05, 2020 – Teaching, University of Helsinki – 10.15-11.45, Language Centre in Fabianinkatu room 207
  • Thursday, February 06, 2020 – Teaching, University of Helsinki – 10.15-11.45, Main building, Hall 16
  • Friday, February 07, 2020 – tba
  • Saturday, February 08, 2020 – tba
  • Sunday, February 09, 2020 – tba
  • Monday, February 10, 2020 – tba
  • Tuesday, February 11, 2020 – Teaching, University of Helsinki – 16.15-17.45, Porthania room 723
  • Wednesday, February 12, 2020 – Teaching, University of Helsinki – 10.15-11.45, Language Centre in Fabianinkatu room 207
  • Thursday, February 13, 2020 – Teaching, University of Helsinki – 10.15-11.45, Main building, Hall 16
  • Friday, February 14, 2020 – Presentation, Dublin.
  • Saturday, February 15, 2020 – Presentation, Dublin.
  • Sunday, February 16, 2020 – tba
  • Monday, February 17, 2020 – tba
  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020 – Paris, Reception, French Senate, Palace of Luxembourg – 18:00
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020 – Paris, events and interviews – details to follow
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020 – Paris, Presentation to French Senate Commission, Palace of Luxembourg – 8:30-10:30
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020 – London, GIMMS presentation, MMT education – afternoon – details to follow
  • Friday, February 21, 2020 – Manchester, GIMMS presentation, The Harwood Room in the Barnes Wallis Building, University of Manchester, details to follow).
  • Saturday, February 22, 2020 – MMTed Masterclass, London, details above.
  • Sunday, February 23, 2020 – Amsterdam – tba

Call for financial assistance for MMTed

If I am to get the – MMTed Project (aka MMT University) – up and going to provide formal courses to students in all nations to advance their understanding of Modern Monetary Theory then I need financial assistance.

I need significantly more funds to get the operations off the ground.

Please help if you can.

We cannot make the MMTed project viable without funding support.

Please write to me with offers of support and I will send you relevant details.

Music

I have always liked the guitar playing of – Jeff Beck – which is different to saying I like everything he has done. The latter is definitely untrue.

But when he offers lyrical work as in this case, he is pretty much at the top of the pile of players.

This version of his band, was in my view, one of the better lineups.

The concert was recorded at Ronnie Scott’s nightclub in central London in 2007. I saw this version of the band around that time while he was touring Australia at the famous – Palais Theatre – in Melbourne.

Not all the material he played was memorable but no-one gets that sort of found from a stratocaster.

The bass player is Australian Tal Wilkenfeld, drums from Vinnie Colaiuta, and Jason Rebello on keyboards.

Imogen Heap provides her almost ‘breathless’ guest vocals to make a pretty good combo altogether.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2020 BIll Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

‘I’ Review of Art Exhibition on Ecological Crisis and Some Solutions

Also of interest in yesterday’s I was a review by Sarah Kent of the exhibition, Eco-Visionaries, at the Royal Society in London. This was about the current ecological crisis, and showcased some possible solutions to the problem, some of them developed by architects. This included a moving desert city, the Green Machine, which also planted a watered crops as it moved. The article ran

Melancholy humming welcomes you to the exhibition, with a globe suspended in the cloudy waters of a polluted fish tank. This simple installation by the artist duo HeHe neatly pinpoints our predicament: our planet is suffocating.

“The absence of a future has already begun,” declare Ana Vaz and Tristan Bera in a film, Reclaimed (2015). We know this already – according to the UN, we need to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050 if we are to prevent the collapse of the Earth’s ecosystem. So what are we waiting for?

Vaz and Bera highlight the problem. The situation requires a wholesale change in attitude: minor tinkering can’t solve it. We need “reciprocity with nature rather than domination… We are nature.” We are mesmerised by events such as the Arctic on fire, Greenland’s ice-cap melting and Venice drowning. But the scale of the problem is so enormous that we can only watch, “fascinated by the acceleration” of the crisis.

The collective Rimini Protokoli encourages us to confront our imminent extinction. On film we see a tank full of languidly floating jellyfish. They flourish in the warming seas and, with diminishing fish stocks, there’s less competition for the plankton they feed on, so their numbers are increasing dramatically. Humans are similarly multiplying – by 2050, according to the UN, there will be 9.7 billion of us – but unlike jellyfish, we require too much energy to adapt to climate change so, like the dinosaurs, our days are numbered. At the end of the presentation they invite us to go with the words: “Your time is up; you will have to leave.”

The Royal Academy is to be congratulated for hosting an exhibition that tackles this urgent issue, but the show exemplifies the problem. The warnings are persuasive, but the solutions envisaged are pitifully inadequate, mainly by architects who don’t address the catastrophe but instead offer us post-apocalyptic follies. The Green Machine (2014) is Studio Malka’s answer to desertification. Resembling a giant oil rig, this monstrosity trundles across the Sahara on caterpillar treads that plough the ground then sow and water the seeds to produce 20 million tons of food per year. Solar towers, wind turbines and water-capturing balloons create a “self-sufficient urban oasis” for those inside. What percentage of the 9.7 billion will they accommodate, I wonder?

Studio Malka’s Green Machine mobile desert city.

It’s a grim subject, and clearly the ecological crisis requires drastic action across the entire globe and very soon. But I am fascinated by the Green Machine. It reminds me of the giant moving cities that cross the devastated future Earth in the SF film Mortal  Engines. As for how many people such a machine could house, the answer is: very few. Douglas Murray’s book Last Futures: Nature, Technology and the End of Architecture predicts that if we carry on as we are, we will end up with a future in which the rich will inhabit closed, protected environments like the various biodomes that were created in the 1990s, while the rest of humanity will be left to fend for itself in the decaying world outside.

It’s a bleak, dystopian prediction, but one I fear will come true if we carry on electing leaders like Trump and Johnson.

In fact, there's plenty we can do to make future fires less likely

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/01/2020 - 5:43pm in

One of the dominant ideas buzzing around the internet is that there’s little we can do to escape the prospect of more frequent and worse bushfires - ever.

That’s because there’s little we can do to slow or reverse the change in the climate.

Australia accounts for just 1.3% of global emissions. That’s much more than you would expect on the basis of our share of world’s population, which is 0.33%. But even if we stopped greenhouse gas emissions as soon as we could and started sucking carbon back in (as would be possible with reafforestation) it’d make little difference to total global emissions, which is what matters – or so the argument goes.

But this argument ignores the huge out-of-proportion power we have to influence other countries.

There’s no better indicator of that than in Ross Garnaut’s new book Super-power: Australia’s low-carbon opportunity.

We’re more important than we think

Garnaut conducted two climate change reviews for Australian governments, the first in 2008 for the state and Commonwealth governments, and the second in 2011 for the Gillard government.

In the second, he produced two projections of China’s emissions, based on what was known at the time.

One was “business as usual”, which showed continued very rapid increases. The other took into account China’s commitments at the just-completed 2010 United Nations Cancun climate change conference.

China’s annual emissions matter more than those of any other country – they account for 27% of the global total, which is a relatively new phenomenon.

The bulk of the industrial carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere was put there by the United States and the Soviet Union, who have been big emitters for much longer.

Egged on by the US Obama administration and by governments including Australia’s under Julia Gillard, China agreed at Cancun to slow its growth in emissions, and at the Paris talks in 2015 hardened this into a commitment to stabilise them by 2030.

The extraordinary graph

Garnaut’s 2011 projections showed growth moderating as a result of China’s commitment, which was at the time a cause for optimism.

When he returned to the numbers in 2019 to prepare his book, he was stunned. Egged on by the example of countries including the US and Australia, China had done far, far better than either “business as usual” or its Cancun commitments. Instead of continuing to grow rapidly, or less rapidly as China had said they would, they had almost stopped growing.

The graph, produced on page 29 of Garnaut’s book, is the most striking I have seen.

Since 2011, China’s emissions have been close to spirit-level flat. They climbed again only from 2017 when, under Trump in the US and various Coalition prime ministers in Australia, the moral pressure eased.

From the start of this century until 2011, China’s consumption of coal for electricity climbed at double-digit rates each year. From 2013 to 2016 (more than) every single bit of China’s extra electricity production came from non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, wind and sun.

There are many potential explanations for the abrupt change. Pressure from nations including the US and Australia is only one.

What happened once could happen again

And there are many potential explanations for China’s return to form after Trump backslid on the Paris Agreement and Australia started quibbling about definitions. An easing of overseas pressure is only one.

But, however brief, the extraordinary pause gives us cause for hope.

Australia can matter, in part because it is hugely respected in international forums for its technical expertise in accounting for carbon emissions, and in part because of its special role as one of the world’s leading energy exporters.

Garnaut’s book is about something else – an enormous and lucrative opportunity for Australia to produce and export embedded energy sourced from wind and the sun at a cost and scale other nations won’t be able to match.

Read more: Australia could fall apart under climate change. But there's a way to avoid it

Some of it can be used to convert water into hydrogen. That can be used to turn what would otherwise be an intermittent power supply into a continuous one that enables around-the-clock production of the green steel, aluminium, and other zero-emission products Japan, Korea, the European Union and the United Kingdom are going to be demanding.

It’s a vision backed by Australia’s chief scientist.

It wouldn’t have been possible before. It has been made possible now by the extraordinary fall in the cost of solar and wind generation, and by something just as important – much lower global interest rates. Solar and wind generators cost money upfront but cost very little to operate. Interest rates are the cost of the money upfront.

At least three consortia are drawing up plans.

There’s not much to lose

There’s much that needs to be done, including establishing the right electricity transmission links. But Garnaut believes it can all be done within the government’s present emissions policy, helping it achieve its emission reduction targets along the way.

What’s relevant here is that moving to ultra-low emissions would do more. It could give us the kind of outsized international influence we are capable of. It could help us make a difference.The Conversation

Peter Martin, Visiting Fellow, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Peter Martin is economics correspondent for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

He blogs at petermartin.com.au and tweets at @1petermartin.

Senator Roberts Suggests Bushfires Be Doused In Corn To Create A Popcorn Smell To Mask Smoke

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/01/2020 - 11:44am in

malcolm-roberts

One Nation’s leading mind (sic) Malcolm Roberts has called on fire fighters to throw tonnes of corn onto the fires to create popcorn. The smell of which would waft into cities masking the more pungent smell of the bushfire smoke.

“I can’t believe nobody other than myself and a friend I met on the internet have thought of this solution,” said an excited One Nation Senator. “Or maybe they have already thought of this and a there’s a Government conspiracy to stop it from happening.”

“I must tell Pauline about my findings, quick pass me my tin foil hat.”

When asked whether he truly believed that throwing highly flammable corn onto a raging fire was in the country’s best interests the Senator said: “Corn does not burn it pops. Haven’t you ever been to the movies?”

“Let me send you a link to a blog I read on the subject it’s very illuminating.”

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

“Come See The Dinosaurs” Says New Tourism Ad Fronted By Craig Kelly

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 2:48pm in

Craigg Kelly

Tourism Australia has launched a new world wide campaign that encourages people to visit Australia and see the dinosaurs. With Government Minister and prominent climate change denier Craig Kelly chosen to be the face of the campaign.

“With the bushfires burning it’s not really the best time to be inviting people to visit the country,” said a Tourism Australia Spokesperson. “However sometimes you have to turn a negative into a positive and when we found out that the rest of the World not only accepted climate change but actually acted upon it we thought let’s turn this to our advantage.”

“I mean what other country in the World has a PM who would bring a lump of coal into parliament?”

When asked whether they expected the campaign to be a success the Spokesperson said: “Since Craig Kelly’s appearance on Good Morning Britain we have thousand’s of calls from people overseas inquiring to see if he is for real.”

“If they’re intrigued by Craig Kelly wait till they see some of our other dinosaurs like Matt Canavan, Tony Abbott and Andrew Bolt.”

Tourism Australia’s campaign has been heavily backed by the Murdoch press who are currently wheeling out all their dinosaurs to speak on how climate change has no bearing on the bushfires.”

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

Scomo To Burn All The Coal To Stop It Adding To Global Warming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 1:00pm in

morrison

The Prime Minster has vowed to destroy all of Australia’s coal after learning that it is a major contributor to global warming and climate change.

“From what I can gather coal is horrible stuff and the sooner the world is rid of it all the better,” said Mr Morrison as he shuddered at an old photograph of himself lovingly cradling a lump of coal in parliament. “I’ve therefore ordered that all of our coal should be dug up out of the ground and set alight so that it no longer poses a danger to humanity.”

“We can’t do this alone so China and India have offered to step in and help us burn all of our coal before it does any further damage,” said Angus Taylor, the Minister for Emissions Reduction. “If we can rid the world of coal by 2029 I’m confident we’ll have no problem meeting our 2030 emission reduction target.”

Mr Morrison has also vowed to burn all of Australia’s beef cattle after learning that methane is a major greenhouse gas.

“We’ll definitely be burning all those cows, bit by bit over a backyard barbecue, probably starting with the T-bones,” said the PM as he strapped on a “Kiss the Chef” apron and fired up the Webber. “And I’ve instructed Peter Dutton to ban that Mr Methane bloke who farts tunes out his arse from entering the country.”

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

Bushfire crisis exposes out of touch Morrison—fight to force him out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 10:19am in

The unprecedented bushfire crisis has exposed Scott Morrison as out of touch, and incapable of tackling either the immediate crisis or the climate emergency behind it.

More than 20 people have now lost their lives. Homes and entire communities have been wiped out. Huge swathes of land have burnt with a such ferocious intensity that some ecosystems will never recover. And we are still only at the start of the fire season.

Morrison has been badly damaged, after weeks of refusing to act.

During the worst fire days in December he was pilloried for scooting off on holiday to Hawaii, while firefighters were dying in the blazes.

For weeks Morrison rejected calls for financial compensation to volunteer firefighters. When he finally announced a meagre compensation package, he was seen as several steps behind mainstream opinion. 

He made matters worse by saying that bushfire victims would be inspired by Australia’s cricketers, from the comfort of a reception at Kirribilli House. 

Angry residents from the fire-stricken town of Cobargo rounded on him when he visited, demanding more resources for the Rural Fire Service and disaster relief. When he wouldn’t commit to either he was heckled and practically run out of the town. 

One person told the Prime Minister he should be “ashamed of himself” and had “left the country to burn”. So much for the quiet Australians. 

Ordinary people and their communities have mobilised to deal with the disasters while Morrison sat on his hands. 

Volunteer firefighters have been working around the clock, often with poor equipment, to save lives and homes. But relying on volunteers to fight fires for months on end is unsustainable. We need more paid professional firefighters and funding to protect rural communities.

After previously refusing to call the situation a crisis and insisting firefighters had all the resources they needed, Morrison has now changed his tune. 

He announced plans to deploy the army reserves to fire zones, without even properly informing the state fire commissioners. He announced more funding for firefighting aircraft, promising several more than were asked for by the firefighting chiefs, as well as extra money for bushfire recovery. He was even desperate and tactless enough to put out a political ad to spruik his announcements. 

Climate change

Fuelling the anger is Morrison’s refusal to acknowledge the reality of climate change and his government’s appalling failure to act. He is desperate to deflect any discussion of the underlying cause of the fires.

Emissions have been rising under the Liberals. Morrison’s emissions reduction policy relies on gaming the calculations of emissions by using ”credits” from the Kyoto protocol period. 

He also led the wrecking operation at the recent UN Climate Summit, helping prevent any strengthening of the commitments to emissions reduction. 

His only response is to insist that Australia is meeting its woefully inadequate Kyoto targets and to blame the intensity of the fires on The Greens who he accuses of preventing adequate hazard reduction burning.  

Not only the severity of the fires, but the prolonged drought and drinking water crisis that have gripped large parts of the country are direct consequences of climate change. It is a glimpse of a grim future if we do not force the transition to a decarbonised economy. 

That will take a huge government investment program in building renewable energy infrastructure. The market will only cherry pick the most profitable projects and cannot be relied upon to rebuild the energy grid to make it compatible with large-scale renewables. And privatisation of electricity generation has driven up prices. That is why we need public ownership. 

Hundreds of thousands of good jobs can be created right now through a public works program in renewable energy, public transport, housing, land management, reforestation and much more. 

But Morrison is in hock to the fossil fuel company bosses and Australian capitalism. Like their international counterparts, they have sunk billions in fossil fuel investments and are committed to extracting every last bit of profit.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has criticised Morrison’s handling of the fire emergency, but will say nothing on what the government should do about climate change. He is even colluding in stopping the transition we need by saying that there is no problem with jobs in coal.

In order to get a just transition we will need to build a social movement that can take on the capitalist system as a whole, taking over the streets and shutting down the workplaces. 

Rallies of thousands have mobilised in the capital cities calling for 100 per cent publicly-owned renewables, no new fossil fuel projects, a just transition for workers and funding for firefighters. 

Further snap protests are planned during January, and there is discussion of a national day of protest on 22 February. These need to be as large as possible, with clear demands for government investment and climate jobs.

The work stoppages in response to the hazardous bushfire smoke were also a step forward, linking workers’ safety with the need for climate action. The maritime union, representing wharfies who stopped work, explicitly linked the failure to act on climate change as increasing bushfire danger. 

Firefighters’ union representatives have also spoken out, pointing to the unprecedented nature of the fires, the link to climate change, and calling for proper staffing and equipment. 

We need much more of this. The climate disasters are a class issue and we will need to mobilise workers’ power if we are to prevent even worse ones in the future. 

By Miro Sandev

The post Bushfire crisis exposes out of touch Morrison—fight to force him out appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Cormann To Auction Off Calculator Used In LibSpill To Raise Funds For Bushfire Victims

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 8:02am in

cormann

Finance Minister Matthias Cormann has announced today that he will auction off the calculator that he used to crunch the numbers for the Minister for the Dark Arts, Peter Dutton during the last Liberal leadership spill to raise funds for victims of the bushfires.

”I saw on the news that the great Shane Warne was auctioning off his baggy green and thought I too should do my part,” said the Government’s leading Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator. ”The calculator has been sitting on my desk and though it can’t add up to 43 I’m sure someone will have some use for it.”

”I did joke to ScoMo that I had been using the calculator to add up the budget surplus. You should have seen his face he ran all the way to Engadine Maccas.”

Experts have struggled to put a value on the calculator with some saying that a dodgy calculator has little value whilst others claim that a calculator that stopped Peter Dutton from becoming Prime Minister is a priceless national treasure.

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

ScoMo Takes Charge Of Bushfire Crisis By Setting Up Command Centre At Engadine Maccas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/01/2020 - 12:09pm in

morrison map

Prime Minister ScoMo has taken charge of the Nation’s bushfire response by announcing today that he has set up a new command centre at Engadine Maccas.

“I admit I was a bit slow to the wicket on this crisis however I am here now and ready to lead from the front,” said the Prime Minister. “At Engadine Maccas we have state of the art technology like wi-fi and electronic ordering.”

“Not to mention the amazing toilet facilities.

When asked why he was setting up a new command centre when there were already centres up and running around the country, the Prime Minister said: “It’s all about the optics, Engadine Maccas has great lighting for promo photos and enough space to film an ad or two.”

“And did I mention the toilet facilities?”

The Prime Minister’s Engadine Maccas command centre is already operational with press invited to take a tour and snap some photos of the PM in action.

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

Unsung Heroes.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 05/01/2020 - 2:50pm in

It’s a commonplace that extreme situations bring out the best and the worst in people. It’s also true.

The twin disasters of Scott Morrison and environmental catastrophe wrecking Australia are no exception. The list of those going above and beyond the call of duty for the common good is long and largely anonymous: volunteer and professional firefighters, paramedics, charity volunteers, neighbours.

I believe these are doing their best. As a member of the public, I speak on my behalf only. Still, I suspect many would agree with me on this.

I am sure many people, working in close contact with them, have contributed to their performance, but two men have become the public faces of the RFS in this crisis: Shane Fitzsimmons and Rob Rogers, RFS Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, respectively. They didn’t go AWOL when they were needed; instead, they have worked hard from the get go, fronted the cameras and always spoken clearly and with courage (and Fitzsimmons did that again just this morning).

It’s important to mention these two names, because in NSW, where another State Emergency was declared by Premier Berejiklian, Commissioner Fitzsimmons has been given powers to coordinate all actions within the state. So, during this period he is at the top of the chain of command.

Or at least that’s what one would have thought until yesterday, when in another display of stupidity and irresponsibility, Morrison appointed Major General Justin Ellwood, Emergency ADF National Support Coordinator without warning or consultation, without clarifying anything. So, answer this Morrison: who’s in command? Fitzsimmons? Ellwood? Both? Neither?

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Another group of people, hidden in plain sight, who have also worked extremely hard, with extraordinary dedication during this time of crisis is the ABC -- the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In Australia the ABC (or Aunty, as it is also called) is responsible for emergency broadcasts. To this effect, their nation-wide network of radio stations, complemented by their online and TV presences, is invaluable, irreplaceable (that’s probably why the COALition and Murdoch press psychopathic scumbags will not stop until they destroy it).

During these dark, chaotic days Australians have much to thank the professionalism of Mary Gearin, Jade Macmillan, Phil Williams, Melissa Clarke, Liv Casben, the indomitable Virginia Trioli, Hamish Macdonald, Michael Rowland, Joanna Woodward Woodburn and God only knows how many others, whose names I should mention, but I am omitting. They all have worked long hours, directly from the ground and/or traveling all over the place; away from their usual reporting duties (Williams, for instance, is a foreign correspondent; Rowland, a presenter and interviewer; Macmillan, a political journalist) sometimes while nominally on holidays (like Casben and Trioli) providing vital information not only to those affected first-hand by the events, but to the wider public, remote witness to the events through the media.

To fill unexpected TV presenter/interviewer slots, created by their daily, almost 24 hour coverage, ABC mobilised its team of talented news readers, presenters, and hosts: from Josh Szep and Johanna Nicholson and Paul Kennedy in the early morning, through Joe O’Brien, Jeremy Fernandez, Juanita Phillips, Mariam Saab, Celina Edmonds, Kathryn Robinson, Gemma Veness and many others.

And those are just the names that come to mind, because one sees them on TV every day. There are many more, anonymous all, behind the cameras, without whose work that invaluable service would not have been possible. Better known or not, all of them, workers.

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By comparison, after months of shirking personal responsibility in the management of the crisis to the point of sneaking out of the country to go on holidays, Scott Morrison could not wait to have this ridiculous, infantile, self-promotion ad appear in his Twitter account:


(Incidentally, it has been alleged that

“The social media post carried a link to the Liberal Party website, which displayed a big DONATE button at the top.

“Donate to the Liberal Party, that is, not any of the worthy bushfire relief efforts. A grab for cash as well as political capital. Classy stuff. At least this appeal for donations was quickly taken down.”

As I cannot confirm or deny that, I can only refer readers to the source of the allegation.)

The thing is not just that Morrison is a piece of shit, is that he is inept. Either way, we lose.

(You guys are legends.)

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I will feature at the end of these posts links with suggestions for donations.

The NSW Rural Fire Service set up an  official webpage for donations to the families of fallen volunteer firefighters: Geoffrey Keaton, Andrew O’Dwyer, and now Samuel McPaul. Donations are tax deductible for Australian residents.

Naaman Zhou compiled donation recommendations directly from NSW, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australian firefighting services.

The ABC’s Edwina Seselja and Peta Fuller also have a list of recognised frontline services readers could consider for donation. Their colleague Kerrin Thomas also has some suggestions, particularly for those in the mid-north coast of NSW.

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