Just a fortnight ago, Scott Morrison and Rupert Murdoch’s Australian tabloids, in uncanny synchronicity – like, literally on the same Monday morning – discovered the climate crisis. They discovered its realness and they discovered the will to pretend to care about it together. For Australia, depressingly, this counts as an improvement.
On Enlightenment Monday, two weeks back, decades of settled science finally seeped into something, and Scott Morrison, the only Prime Minister to have waved a lump of coal inside Parliament House as a taunt to people who give a shit about their children’s futures, pledged to “unite” Australia on the road towards the new socially acceptable bare minimum conservative position: a net zero 2050 target.
“It is my job as Prime Minister,” he said, breaking form.
From this point Morrison spent the next two weeks laying groundwork, buttering up to Australian politics’ drunk uncle, The National Party, promising them billions in taxpayer coal subsidies, granting them an extra cabinet position, and letting Barnaby Joyce fang the clown car around in the spotlight for a few days.
Murdoch would handle the public’s drunk uncle. On that same enlightening Monday, News Corporation’s tabloids/Liberal Party activity books were draped in a different type of tradie than normal – the solar panel tradie.
Captioning the colourful pictures: 16-wet pages infused with Joe Hildebrand’s milquetoast advocacy for, surprise, the new bare minimum conservative position. This was bolstered with hard-ons for nuclear power and spiffy articles with headlines like “What polluters are doing to help”. The overwhelming theme? Yes, this is real now, but no one should be annoyed with anyone about anything, least of all us.
“And so you’re asking, why all of a sudden your favourite newspaper is now providing solutions for how to combat climate change,” said Joe Hildebrand, not unreasonably. As the face of “Mission: Zero,” NewsCorp’s attempt to erase decades of disastrous climate denial from our minds, he might need to field that one a few times. “Well, that’s because the people that were supposed to be in charge, all stuffed it up! But we think our plan might just work.”
Australian minds are in an abusive relationship with this pseudo-media company. It has spent decades lying to its audience, and, through fuckwit osmosis, lying to anyone unfortunate enough to talk politics with NewsCorp’s audience. It has massaged carbon into the atmosphere, the Liberal Party into Parliament. And now it is here to rescue us. No mea culpa, no “whoops, we got that wrong for literally decades, sorry about all the devastation”. Just Joe Fucking Hildebrand to save the day.
And now, two weeks since the Enlightenment, media and political wings of oligarchy in alignment on new fertile soil, Australia has a plan!
And not just any plan: a capital P Plan. The Plan. PLAN. THE. Graphs, brochures, PowerPoint. All of it.
Does this mean anything? No. Is it a plan? Not really. Is it THE PLAN? Abso-fucking-lutely it is.
Under a heading labelled “VISION”, presumably by Lehmo from marketing, sits the horrifying clause that collapses the entire edifice, the mirage we are actually changing: “The Plan is based on our existing policies”.
The problem is we don’t really have any of those.
Australia unequivocally does not have existing policies that will get us to net zero by 2050. Our current trajectory is a path to net zero by 2167.
In fact, our entire approach to this slow-boiling global crisis, for decades, has been to deny it’s happening, dig more holes, funnel more taxpayer money to the few people that own the holes, create shady convoluted offset schemes, and bathe in the electoral cover provided by Murdoch media’s relentless ridiculing of greenies, The Greens, electric vehicles, carbon taxes, Greta Thunberg, and anyone attempting to do more than nothing for our species’ collective survival.
Here’s the fucking thing. None of this was ever the other side of a sensible, rational discussion. Our national conversation on this subject has, again, for literally decades, pitted facts versus nonsense, evidence versus mouthpieces for the coal industry, science against dipshits. And News Corp overwhelmingly sided with the nonsense, the mouthpieces, and the dipshits. In almost any other industry – remember, technically NewsCorp exists in the “informing people true things” industry – if a company fucked up for this long, this often, and with this much enthusiasm, there’d be at least some consequences.
But we have The Plan now! And with it, more PowerPoint slides. This next one is the best.
Literally none of this means anything. As outlined in this step pyramid, existing technologies (“enabled by The Plan”) will account for 85% of the reductions we need to hit net zero. The last 15% will be achieved using unexisting technologies. And that’s… well, that’s kind of it.
Australia’s formula for net zero emissions by 2050 involves no new policy, 85% stuff that exists, and 15% stuff does not exist yet. Boom, The Plan. Let’s call an early lunch.
I want to pull out my hair and eat it. I don’t know how we’re meant to take this seriously? How is anyone meant to report on this, or even read about it, while maintaining the veneer there are still adults and there’s still a room for them to be in? And it’s all made even worse because they clearly know we know and they still don’t give a shit.
The silver lining is The New York Times finally managed to understand Australia’s banana republic vibe.
We are not a real functioning country. Australia is a string of independent kingdoms held together by a marketing department in Canberra.
And with the atmosphere cooking and humanity’s future on this planet more tentatively balanced than most of us would like, that marketing department has given us… well, The Plan: something to talk about while the pilfering continues; a way to dodge some embarrassment in Glasgow; an election strategy for both the LNP and the LNP’s unofficial media arm to run with.
Morrison will wave The Plan around like he has the Doherty Report, like he has the many scrapped iterations of vaccine targets and “horizons” – graphs that obfuscate the graft. He will own The Plan. It is his Plan.
And NewsCorp will sell it. The mass conservative propaganda network that told us as recently as 2019, “There are no carbon emissions. If there were, we could not see because most carbon is black,” will back The Plan. And NewsCorp will do this because, for all intents and purposes, it is The Plan.
And the rest of us will just have to stomach it until it’s time to vote out the most depraved, rotten, callous, uninterested, PowerPoint-happy, and stupid government this country has ever seen. This is not about 2050, it is about the next federal election. This is not an attempt to save our future, it is an attempt to save Morrison’s.
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