Burning questions

To keep things ticking over, some factless musings on the bushfire situation.

Time for a new thread. While I’m about it, two points about the bushfire crisis. To start with the obvious: it would be really interesting to see an opinion poll right now, but being what time of year it is, there are no polls to be had. Even if you remain skeptical-or-worse about the value of voting intention polling in the wake of last year’s debacle, some personal ratings on Scott Morrison would undoubtedly offer a helpful objective measure of how his image is bearing up after what has clearly been a tough couple of weeks. If you take your cues from social media, you may have concluded by now that Morrison’s career is as good as over. But if the last few years have taught us nothing else, it’s that that’s usually not a good idea. However, a News Corp pundit who generally doesn’t partake of the organisational kool-aid may have been on to something when he noted that this apprehension was “probably what tricked Morrison into thinking that all the outrage against him was confected and so he might as well go catch some rays”.

A second, less obvious point relates to an Eden-Monaro by-election that some readers of Canberra tea leaves assured us was on the cards, with one such ($) relating a view that Labor member Mike Kelly would be “gone by Christmas”. These reports asserted that the by-election would be used by state Nationals leader John Barilaro to enter federal politics with a view to deposing struggling party leader Michael McCormack. But if it’s the case that the government has suffered a bushfire-related hit to its standing, the thought of taking on a Labor-held seat at a by-election may have lost its appeal. The once-bellwether seat covers some of the worst affected areas, including the town of Cobargo, where Morrison met a hostile reception on Thursday from locals who — depending on your right-wing news source of choice — are either in no way representative of the town, or all too representative of it.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3,738 comments on “Burning questions”

  1. For those who missed it, it has been the BBC reporting correctly on fires and climate change.

    Denise Shrivell
    @deniseshrivell
    ·
    2m
    Twiggy’s fire resilience & mitigation plans are all about deforestation – & disaster capitalism. Guess we’ll need to wait for International media to cover this as well #auspol

  2. From this comment by Twiggy I guess he will be asking Kelly and the Devine Miranda to determine the research priorities.

    ‘A warming planet is but a small part of what is happening out there in Australia,’ he told reporters in Perth on Thursday.

    ‘As you know, a large proportion of these fires have been lit by arsonists.

    ‘But it all comes together – the opportunity to take advantage of a drought, to take advantage of an incredibly dry season and very warm summers by anybody to cause devastation is absolutely tragic.’

  3. Socrates
    I think ScoMo is just a hypocritical arsehole who has been promoted way above his capabilities. I don’t think he’d meet any diagnosis. He’s obviously low on empathy but he’s not Robinson Crusoe there.

  4. “poroti says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 5:19 pm
    From this comment by Twiggy I guess he will be asking Kelly and the Devine Miranda to determine the research priorities.”

    Pretty depressing, isn’t it?

  5. b and Peg

    I have essentially been limiting my discussions to rural and regional seats in the large states. One reason is that, for example, Tasmania is in many respects unique.

    I believe that in relation to rural and regional seats my comments in relation to the impact of greens policies and the problems that Labor has with being Greens Lite, stand.

  6. William, as I said in my earlier post, I couldn’t be bothered reviewing all of the posts contributing to these sorts of internal brawls. I saw that post (on one of my rare visits these days for the reasons I have outlined) and picked that as an example of the sort of post that I find a turn off.

    However, if your assessment of my post leads you to label me as “stupid” so be it. I find that regrettable and quite extraordinary in the context of the petty and vindictive brawling that now characterises your once illuminating blog site.

    Fair enough, but if you wanted to make a point about the culture of the blog, there are plenty of less self-defeating ways you could have gone about it than effectively sledging Pegasus.

  7. C@tmomma says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    …”Okay, Not Sure. So tell me how many economic libertarians, such as you seem to me to be, as you keep pushing the line that you do not think that paying tax on earnings is a valid proposition, there are in the Labor Party? Then, compare that to how many there definitely are in the Liberal Party, and then tell me why I was wrong to assume you were a Liberal?”…

    …………

    I’m not an economic libertarian Catmomma, but thanks for yet another label. (should maybe start a collection)

    Possibly an unreconstructed anarchist.

  8. I suppose Twiggy will be asking Kelly and the Devine Miranda to determine the research priorities.
    ‘A warming planet is but a small part of what is happening out there in Australia,’ he told reporters in Perth on Thursday.
    ‘As you know, a large proportion of these fires have been lit by arsonists.
    ‘But it all comes together – the opportunity to take advantage of a drought, to take advantage of an incredibly dry season and very warm summers by anybody to cause devastation is absolutely tragic.’

    You cant expect people to care enough to do the right thing when all they see, smell, hear and taste is the insides of their own colon.

  9. Mark Duckett
    @MarkRDuckett
    ·
    6m
    $50 million of that he is effectively donating to himself, the rest is socialised in tax deductions..

    Billionaire ‘Twiggy’ Forrest donates $70m for bushfire fund

  10. TPOF
    says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 3:39 pm
    William, it would be interesting to know what sort of a posting regime you would actually want here? Is Nath your favourite because his snarks and put-downs of everybody here he doesn’t like are witty and erudite.
    _______________________________
    As much as I loath discussion of myself I fear a 3 day conference on the topic of ‘nath’ will be necessary. To be held on the 24th, 25th and 26th of this month. This should enable plenty of time for almost everyone to prepare a paper. I will save my responses for the 27th.

  11. BoerWar,

    The obvious solution is for you to join the ALP if you are not already a member and argue at branch level for Labor to articulate a clear policy position on agriculture.

    Alternatively you could join the Greens and argue at branch level for changes to agriculture policy, keeping in mind that the organic and biodynamic growers have competing and conflicting interests to those involved in industrial agriculture, and you are unlikely to find support.

    Your choice.

  12. It’s hard to think of a more enjoyable four days of holidays than that experienced with my family on Kangaroo Island in January 2018.

    Flinders Chase National Park was stunning along with all the iconic sites on the south west corner.

    kayaking on the Harriette River near Vivonne Bay was magnificent as well a private tour amongst the sea lines at Seal Bay which was unforgettable.

    The absolute highlight was swimming with dolphins off the north of the island (American Bay?). If you want dolphins to swim near you, swim in a very uncoordinated way to attract their curiosity rather than some orthodox style.

    I even liked the bloke who was feeding the pelicans at Kingscote. Not so much for him but the funny way in which pelicans come to land on a pier

  13. As much as I loath discussion of myself I fear a 3 day conference on the topic of ‘nath’ will be necessary.

    Bums on toilet stuff that. Everyone will be on the edge of their basin.

  14. b

    The issue is not really personal IMO.

    If rural and regional voters have a view that Labor is Greens Lite – a view promulgated by both the Coalition and the Greens, and if they have a view that Labor will be blackmailed by the Greens BOP, again a view promulgated by both the Coalition and the Greens, then Labor is going to continue being smashed in the 34 regional electorates in the large states.

  15. Someone with the right connections might suggest to the very generous high profile donors who get the climate change message that they might donate half their $ to emergency assistance and half to climate change institute of some sort. Having more serious institute funding to help combat climate nonsense propaganda would be excellent.

    And that goes for the rest of us. I’m aware of a fundme type project being launched related to Kangaroo Island Dunnart recovery and Trust for Nature in Victoria have launched a fund to help people with TFN Victoria covenated properties in medium term with recovery activities such as weed control etc. No doubt there are many others.

    Meanwhile Albanese sending out appeal for $ for koala rescue in Adelaide Hills has not got the right focus. Koalas in KI and Adelaide Hills are introduced and numbers have been exploding over recent years causing damage to habitat. Culling of wounded koalas is much smarter than spending resources on nursing them back to health. Having the understandable sympathy misdirected is not a good outcome for the environment.

  16. Advertiser journalists on Kangaroo Island have picked up a barefoot man and taken him to Kingscote.

    Gabriel Polychronis and Brad Fleet, on KI to cover the fires, drove past the man walking along the Playford Highway this afternoon.

    He said he had left his farm on Thursday after the fires flared up.

  17. Some computer advice, please.

    My default browser is Chrome. I saved a word doc as a PDF in a new bookmark and after hunting for a bit, discovered that it had been commandeered by Avast, which keeps trying to force itself in as my default browser.

    How do I transfer a bookmark from one browser to another? Or isn’t it possible?
    Also, how can I send Avast into the naughty corner (I have not deliberately downloaded it.)?

  18. “Spence says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 5:48 pm
    Someone with the right connections might suggest to the very generous high profile donors who get the climate change message that they might donate half their $ to emergency assistance and half to climate change institute of some sort.”

    Nah – they’ll just get pilloried for not donating all their money to the “firies”

    “Culling of wounded koalas….”

    ALBO KILLS CUDDLY KOALAS

    The headline writes itself. Bolt would be “Albo says he cares for the environment, but he’s out there killing koalas”.

  19. nath says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 5:44 pm
    Well done SK in submitting the first abstract.
    ___________________________
    Just think of some of the papers:

    “nath thought re-imagined for the new decade”

    ” nath – a critical reappraisal”

    “nath – freedom fighter or rogue?”

  20. Blobbit. I’m not suggesting Albo does anything about culling koalas. But sending out an official Labor call for donations specifically for koalas misses the mark by a fair way for people in SA who understand the koala issues.

    “There’s a lot of bad – but I wanted to share some of the good. Yesterday I visited Adelaide Koala Rescue – a local community group caring for more than 100 injured or orphaned koalas.

    Operating out of a school gym, these volunteers are giving up their time to care for some of our littlest and furriest Australians. But they can’t do it alone.
    To support Adelaide Koala Rescue, make a donation at http://www.akr.org.au/donate. Every dollar helps.
    Cheers
    Albo”

  21. Quoll @ #3294 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 12:43 pm

    Same for other compo for the general public or businesses, as P1 also suggested, if you’re outside whatever strict or ridiculous criteria they set, nothing.

    Yes indeed. Been out all day, and one thing I did while I had access to a phone was have a discussion with a staffer of our local MP. I described how the qualification rules for various disaster relief payments seemed to make it almost impossible for anyone to actually make a successful claim.

    The staffer basically agreed the rules were ridiculous, and were especially inappropriate for areas of very high seasonality – as tourist destinations on the south coast tend to be – and said they had been raising this very point with the federal government for some time, to no avail.

    So they could not offer any assistance or hope – the government is not for changing 🙁

  22. Lars, some bludgers seem to be working on the theme of homo-eroticism in my works on Shorten. Should be interesting to see these ideas fully fleshed out.

  23. Can I suggest William sets up a thread called something like “Narcissists self-analysis forum”. I’d be happy if it started straight away.

  24. Steve777
    says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 5:57 pm
    The 24th, 25th and 26th are already reserved for the Australia Day Wars.
    ______________________
    Fair point but I think we can fit both in.

  25. lizzie @ #3519 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 5:51 pm

    Some computer advice, please.

    My default browser is Chrome. I saved a word doc as a PDF in a new bookmark and after hunting for a bit, discovered that it had been commandeered by Avast, which keeps trying to force itself in as my default browser.

    How do I transfer a bookmark from one browser to another? Or isn’t it possible?
    Also, how can I send Avast into the naughty corner (I have not deliberately downloaded it.)?

    Open your control panel

    Click on Programs and Features”

    Click on the program you want to remove – “Avast” – whatever

    and then click on “uninstall”

    Quite a few internet comments about this item installing itself.

    Should you have a Twiggy Forest program – be sure to uninstall that as well.

    Regarding the bookmark – you could make a note of the address of the item and load that into whatever browser and then bookmark again.

    Good luck.

  26. Scientists warn forest industry plan could increase fire risk

    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/scientists-warn-forest-industry-plan-could-increase-fire-risk-20200109-p53q4u.html

    Scientists warn a timber industry proposal to allow some logging in national parks and on other public land to reduce bushfire risk is an “incredibly misleading” idea that could actually make forests more flammable.

    The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) have said the forestry industry should be used, along with more hazard reduction burning, in a new approach to bushfire prevention.
    :::
    But Australian National University landscape ecology expert Professor David Lindenmayer said multiple academic and forest industry studies showed forest thinning in Australia “makes forests more fire prone”.

    “It [thinning and mechanical fuel reduction] is a misleading argument that is simply wrong,” Prof Lindenmayer said.

    Forest and fire expert Professor Philip Zylstra from Curtin University said while thinning trees might sound like a simple way to reduce fuel loads and with it fire risk, it would actually make the forest more flammable.
    :::
    “I know why the industry is talking about this, they have run out of timber … this is crass opportunism to take advantage of a catastrophe.”

  27. Spence
    says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 6:07 pm
    Can I suggest William sets up a thread called something like “Narcissists self-analysis forum”. I’d be happy if it started straight away.
    ___________________
    No one would be left in the main thread apart from a few humble souls like yourself Spence.

  28. ‘Spence says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 6:03 pm
    Blobbit. I’m not suggesting Albo does anything about culling koalas. But sending out an official Labor call for donations specifically for koalas misses the mark by a fair way for people in SA who understand the koala issues.”

    Fair enough – on first reading I took it you were suggesting he should be asking people to raise money to assist with culling injured koalas. My error. I also agree with it in terms of environmental outcomes, but I think politically asking people to donate for koala rescue isn’t too stupid.

    I understand you weren’t suggesting he throttle them with his bare (bear?) hands

  29. nath says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    …”As much as I loath discussion of myself I fear a 3 day conference on the topic of ‘nath’ will be necessary. To be held on the 24th, 25th and 26th of this month. This should enable plenty of time for almost everyone to prepare a paper. I will save my responses for the 27th”…

    ……….

    Early submission:

    I think you are excellent, and really liven up the joint.

  30. BW,

    Just to give a rough idea of the organic market.

    Australia has an estimated 35 million hectares of certified organic farmland which is roughly 10% of total. Current estimates of the value of Australia’s organic industry are around $2.4 billion, and there are roughly 4000 certified growers and processors.

    These businesses are perhaps not your target rural voter, but they are rural voters earning a living from primary production, and include beef farmers in Queensland.

    https://austorganic.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/AustOrganicMarketReport2018_spreads_digital.pdf

  31. jenauthor
    says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 6:19 pm
    We are obviously in a new era: The Narcissocene
    _____________
    A bold abstract Jen. Summoning the prospect of a new era. I like it.

  32. Twiggy Forrest famously bragged that he “Never paid tax”, whilst simultaneously shafting investors eg the bankrupt Anaconda Nickel. He has used his accumulated wealth to shower cash on his pet causes, everything from sandcastle competitions in Perth, reimagining ocean usage rights to what became the Indue Card.

    This $50m ‘donation’ to a body to look at bushfires – already given his riding instruction that arsonists are to blame – reminds us of this article from Kristina Kennealy on possible philanthropic disfunction.

    ‘Philanthropy from wealthy individuals is many things: generous, inspiring, and selfless. But it is also inherently undemocratic. It vests massive power in the hands of the giver to determine how much money is available and what causes merit support.’

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/24/twiggy-forrests-philanthropy-is-great-but-he-could-have-just-paid-more-tax

  33. lizzie

    Avast Free Antivirus Review – A full review of Avast Free Antivirus:
    https://www.lifewire.com/avast-free-antivirus-2016-review-1356598

    “Tries to install unrelated software.
    :::
    You’ll be asked to install Avast’s web browser or some other program or tool during installation. These additions are not required; just uncheck the boxes if you’re not interested.

    You’re required to register Avast to use it for more than 30 days, but registration is free and pretty simple. You’ll also have to re-register once each year, but again, this is free.”

  34. p1
    That ought to be extraordinary stuff.
    But it is ordinary.
    The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments get one thing very well: bastardizing people.
    I might give Zed’s office a call on your anonymous behalf.
    See what happens.
    Will let you know.

  35. Not Sure @ #3537 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 6:14 pm

    nath says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    …”As much as I loath discussion of myself I fear a 3 day conference on the topic of ‘nath’ will be necessary. To be held on the 24th, 25th and 26th of this month. This should enable plenty of time for almost everyone to prepare a paper. I will save my responses for the 27th”…

    ……….

    Early submission:

    I think you are excellent, and really liven up the joint.

    If wanting the social media equivalent of a cage match is your thing. 😐

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