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. a r:

    I’ll take the obvious explanation. The Iranian counterattack was all about optics. They couldn’t do nothing after Trump just assassinated one of their officials and then bragged about it to the world. Neither are they stupid/suicidal enough to actually want to escalate further.

    It might be that the Iranian Theocracy* (and/or the Iranian Government) wanted rid of General Soleimani, and the US was willing to help. And the rest of it has been a desperate effort to stop Mr Trump giving the game away.

    *It is of course well known that Ayatollah Khomeini (the first one) saw the threat of the Revolutionary Guard, and tried to get rid of them. It would have been rather better had he succeeded.

  2. Mogotrone

    I think the whole Labor-Green hostility thing is over-rated at least in terms of mindshare of the typical “low information” voter.

    However I do agree that Labor and Greens could benefit from a lot more cooperation, at least behind the scenes.

  3. E.G.T,

    A festschrift – love those conferences. But they do need to be organised by your research community, who are really impressed by your contributions.

  4. Labor and Greens don’t have to work out their differences. They just need to campaign for their own policies and not get into debate about what will happen after the next election or spend energy attacking each other. That is not easy as some of the spear throwers on each side prefer attacking each other in a particularly counter productive way than doing the hard yards of explaining why LNP policies are against the interests of most people.

  5. I think the whole Labor-Green hostility thing is over-rated at least in terms of mindshare of the typical “low information” voter.

    Your average voter believes Labor is too close to the Greens, which is why the coalition bang on about it all the time.

  6. D&M:

    E.G.T,

    A festschrift – love those conferences. But they do need to be organised by your research community, who are really impressed by your contributions.

    Are you saying nath is not really impressive? Shame on you – you’ll probably be dis-invited!

  7. Just dropping in to say Albo and Dan Andrews have been good during the crises. Both leaders handled the situation really well.

    Gladys was hardworking but a lot of issues come up with the evacuation and holidaying emergency minister is a disgrace.

    Morrison was terrible no other way to spin it.

  8. Morrison on 730 carrying on about when things became apparent to authorities, clearly forgetting or overlooking the fact that a) authorities tried to warn him and his govt ages ago but couldn’t get a meeting, and b) he was out of the country for most of the current crisis.

  9. In terms of reducing the problems of bushfires, action on climate change won’t make a skerrick of difference for so long it’s not funny (sorry but that is a fact). That’s obviously not to say we shouldn’t do a lot more to reduce emissions but we are stuck with this for ages and have to adapt somehow.

  10. Wow! Just wow!

    During these first days of the third decade of the twenty-first century, as we watch humans, animals, trees, insects, fungi, ecosystems, forests, rivers (and on and on) being killed, we find ourselves without a word to name what is happening. True, in recent years, environmentalists have coined the term ecocide, the killing of ecosystems — but this is something more. This is the killing of everything. Omnicide.

    ….We need to understand that the responsibility for omnicide is various and layered. The role that those responsible play this time is almost always less direct, but its effect no less devastating. We are unlikely to identify anyone actively scheming the death of the five-hundred million wild animals whom we believe to have died in the first month of this summer’s Australian bushfires.

    We can, however, identify the political representatives who refused to meet with fire chiefs who had been seeking to warn of, and act to mitigate, the impending disaster. The same political representatives who approved and continue to approve new coalmines in the face of scientific consensus on the effect that continuing to burn fossil fuels will have on climate in general, and drought and temperatures in particular. The same political representatives who approve water being diverted to support resource extraction, when living beings are dying for want of water and drying to the point of conflagration.

    We can identify the media owners who sponsor mass denial of the scientific evidence of the effects of a fossil fuel addicted economy on the climate. The same media owners who deploy the tools of mass manipulation to stoke fear, seed confusion, breed ignorance and create and then fuel hostile divisions within communities.

    We can identify the financial institutions that continue to invest in, and thereby prop up toxic industries, and who support the abovementioned media owners so as to protect themselves from accumulating stranded assets. We can identify the investors who use their financial and social capital to support politicians who will protect their financial interests. We can identify a corporate culture and a legal system, populated by lawyers, management consultants and financial analysts, that incentivise or even require companies to maximise short term shareholder profit and externalise costs to the future and the planet.

    And then we can identify parties closer to home. Business owners and investors whose profits depend on systems of extraction and resource exploitation. Consumers addicted to lifestyles based on resource extraction and the exploitation of the natural world. Citizens who prioritise narrow short-term interests over the sustainability of the planet. Citizens who lack the courage or fortitude to take ourselves through the social and economic transformations required to give our children and the more-than-human-world a future. Citizens who do not bother to take the time or make the effort to develop well-informed opinions, but would rather run to the comfort of the truisms of their tribe.

    We can also identify the humans and human cultures that have told ourselves that we are superior to, and thus have the right to dominate and exploit, other animals and the natural world. That we are the ones who get to flourish, and that everything else that is here, is here for our use. That other beings are not life but resource.

    None on this long list developed a specific intent to kill everything. But all of us have created and are creating the conditions in which omnicide is inevitable.

    https://www.abc.net.au/religion/danielle-celermajer-omnicide-gravest-of-all-crimes/11838534

  11. A couple of tweets I saw on Trump/Iran with different angles:

    “Likely all a show, to scare US allies out of Iraq. Putin & Assad can now happily take over Iraq without any resistance”

    “Trump is trying to shift NATO focus from Russia just what Putin wanted. We know what Trump is doing here.”

  12. C@t

    Ethically, I don’t think it’s much different from a Jonestown / Branch Davidian suicide cult, although obviously at a larger scale

  13. Diogenes @ #3710 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 7:42 pm

    In terms of reducing the problems of bushfires, action on climate change won’t make a skerrick of difference for so long it’s not funny (sorry but that is a fact). That’s obviously not to say we shouldn’t do a lot more to reduce emissions but we are stuck with this for ages and have to adapt somehow.

    Yep, you are spot on. I saw a clip on the news recently about a house built down this way incidentally, that was built to withstand extreme fires. That could be something the BCA looks at for its next standards.

  14. Dio – maybe for a few years but it should be able to be mitigated by serious international action in implementing rapidly the Paris Agreement as first stage. What we do know are the climate predictions related to global warming – and that should drive major research and investment into dealing with the problems and not just lazily assuming that things will/might “return to normal” which is the hope/belief of Morrison & Co.

  15. E. G. Theodore @ #3715 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 10:49 pm

    C@t

    Ethically, I don;t think it’s much different from a Jonestown / Branch Davidian suicide cult, although obviously at a larger scale

    They’re on a road to nowhere, as the great song by Talking Heads goes. 🙁

    I see it all the time around where I live. It’s full of the types that facilitate the Omnicide. But just so long as THEY can keep benefiting, they don’t care.

  16. jansant
    @Jansant
    · 6h
    .@abcnews Forrest hasn’t ‘donated $70 million dollars for bushfire relief’. $50 million of that has been given to his own charity for bushfire research, which will almost certainly be used to build political legitimacy for increased land clearing to aid his own interests. #auspol

  17. Diogenes @ #3710 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 9:42 pm

    In terms of reducing the problems of bushfires, action on climate change won’t make a skerrick of difference for so long it’s not funny (sorry but that is a fact).

    It’s not, actually. Action on climate change won’t make a skerrick of improvement over current conditions for so long it’s not funny. However you’re not factoring that inaction degrades conditions further and faster.

    We’re stuck with high fire risks and will have to come up with plans to mitigate them in the short term, yes. But all those plans are completely pointless if nothing is done to stop the constant warming of the planet; the high risks will just keep getting higher until they overwhelm whatever short-term measures we try.

    Slowing our decline from shitty conditions to unlivable conditions is still a difference.

  18. Denise Shrivell Retweeted
    David Marler
    @Qldaah
    ·
    2h
    How easy is to fool the Australian media? Let me show you a magic trick. Look at this shiny bauble, now look over there at that strawman. Andrew Forrest donates to his own Minderoo Foundation and redirects the focus of #AustralianFires onto arson. #auspol
    Quote Tweet

    SBS News
    @SBSNews
    · 5h
    Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest says he believes arson is the biggest factor behind the intensity of the Australian bushfires, after announcing a $70 million donation for recovery efforts
    http://bit.ly/2T6xxeZ

  19. It’s why the original ‘Blade Runner’ movie, based on the Phillip K.Dick novel, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ really opened my eyes to the potential for humanity to continue in the sort of post-apocalyptic world that seems to be being created in front of our very eyes right now.

    You had a Hard Scrabble Underclass, the Ultra Wealthy Elites, who garnered what was left of what was once a beautiful world to themselves, the Entertainers and the Enforcers. And a few Scientists who were employed to create the world the Elites wanted, for better for themselves, or for worse so that they could continue to dominate.

    It was all rather bleak, but, of course, you always have the Rebels. Idealists who can see through the blizzard of bs and whose indomitable human spirit will propel them on a sometimes kamikazi journey to right the wrongs.

    Sadly, it was written before the digital age had become a reality because I really would have loved to see how Phillip K.Dick would have resolved the tension between the malign forces who have co-opted the digital world to advance their control of the hearts and minds of the people, versus those who wish to use it to set us free.

    I guess we’ll just have to sit back and watch it spool out in real time, to see how this monumental battle ends.

  20. Spence:

    Dio – maybe for a few years but it should be able to be mitigated by serious international action in implementing rapidly the Paris Agreement as first stage. What we do know are the climate predictions related to global warming – and that should drive major research and investment into dealing with the problems and not just lazily assuming that things will/might “return to normal” which is the hope/belief of Morrison & Co.

    Action to adapt will create its own momentum – once people are doing it successfully they will keep doing so, improved how they do it, and so on. This is will resolve the ‘debate’, by super-session, rather than by “winning”

    Who knows what Mr Morrison believes, but the fossil fuel industry is not under any illusions that things will return to normal. Instead the thought is (as on Wall Street): “I’ll be gone; you’ll be gone!”* In other words the current group hopes the game can be kept going long enough that they can scarper into the sunset carrying off the loot. That’s rather bad, but bad is quite common and the question as always is what one does in response. Again the best response is to supersede the unreality, not waste time arguing the toss.

    *Also, the non-coal fossil fuels industry is going to throw coal under a bus, and soon…

  21. Finished watching “Bun Fight at the O.K. Tea Rooms” and having a last check of P.B. for the night. No mention of the bloody royal family and so ’tis time for sleepy bo-bo’s after a soothing mug of Venom.

  22. mundo says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    …”You mean Scrotty’s not ‘fucked’ as Not Sure told me?”…

    He’s still the leader of the country so you should respectfully use his correct title:

    Prime Minister Fucked.

  23. a r says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    …”They couldn’t do nothing after Trump just assassinated one of their officials”…

    For a person who seems to take delight in correcting the technical deficiencies of other people’s grammar, this is an appalling use of the English language.

  24. Here’s someone with a tourism background who isn’t very happy with the coal industry.

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-business-case-against-coal-20200108-p53ps7.html

    One hopes that business interests start to realise its in their interest to lobby against coal.

    Interestingly he writes..

    AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver estimates the fires will wipe $20 billion from gross domestic product, a major drag on our economy, and this won’t be the last time it happens.

    There goes the surplus…

  25. Where I live in Armidale in the division of New England, I speak to a lot of people in one of my jobs, that of a taxi driver. So far, I have not encountered any increased anger towards the government. Interestingly enough, I have encountered several people who are blaming the ‘Greenies’ or ‘lefties’ or ‘arsonists’ for the bush-fires. Therefore; this disinformation campaign blaming the bush-fires on arsonists being waged currently, I believe will be much more effective than those who are political engaged realize.

  26. The perennial question.

    Paul Barratt
    @phbarratt
    ·
    10m
    Funny how Australia’s contribution to global emissions is too small to matter but our military efforts in the Middle East are a vital contribution to global peace.

  27. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    David Crowe reports that Morrison has said Australia will play “whatever constructive role we can” after the US President called on other countries to “break away” from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australian-troops-stay-in-iraq-despite-missile-attacks-20200109-p53q4r.html
    And Crowe wonders if a damaged PM rise from the ashes.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/can-a-damaged-pm-rise-from-the-ashes-20200109-p53q6r.html
    Twiggy Forrest has moved to clarify his stance on climate change after pointing to arson as a big contributor to this summer’s devastating fire season.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/mining-magnate-andrew-forrest-announces-70-million-for-bushfire-recovery-and-long-term-resilience-20200109-p53q38.html
    Simon Holmes à Court declares that when it comes to emissions, the ‘too small to matter’ argument is absurd, reckless and morally bankrupt.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/09/when-it-comes-to-emissions-the-too-small-to-matter-argument-is-absurd-reckless-and-morally-bankrupt
    Things are looking dire in Kangaroo Island this morning.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/09/kangaroo-island-fire-roars-back-as-wind-change-intensifies-threat-to-parndana-and-vivonne-bay
    IT manager and crew leader Alastair Breingan tells us that the FRS’s current communication and computing equipment is obsolete and presents serious problems both for a brigade and its fire control centre, which will only get worse as fires get more frequent, larger and more complex. This applies to all phases of a callout. He makes some good suggestions, some of which are already in place in SA.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/obsolete-technology-is-blinding-the-rural-fire-service-20200108-p53pps.html
    Australia is built on lies, so why would we be surprised about lies about climate change asks Luke Pearson.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/10/australia-is-built-on-lies-so-why-would-we-be-surprised-about-lies-about-climate-change
    Due to political incompetence leading to the devastation of our country, Australians are becoming increasingly vocal against the Morrison Government, writes Peter Henning.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/in-the-name-of-australias-future-the-morrison-government-must-go,13473
    Denial is at the heart of PM Scott Morrison’s delusional refusal to treat the cancer of climate change writes professor of medicine David Shearman.
    https://thenewdaily.com.au/life/science/environment/2020/01/09/denial-climate-change-scott-morrison/
    In quite an interesting contribution researcher Marc Hudson is overwhelmed by déjà vu watching our politicians fumble through the bushfire crisis.
    https://theconversation.com/watching-our-politicians-fumble-through-the-bushfire-crisis-im-overwhelmed-by-deja-vu-129338
    News Corp columnist Miranda Devine has added to the spread of misinformation by falsely blaming the Greens for our bushfire crisis, writes Nick Goldie.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-truth-behind-miranda-devines-attack-on-the-greens,13470
    Dana McCauley reports that Labor wants school students in bushfire zones to get trauma counselling when they go back to school, with psychologists warning a significant minority of children will have ongoing problems.
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/labor-calls-on-morrison-to-roll-out-bushfire-trauma-counsellors-in-schools-20200109-p53q1j.html
    Australia’s grid operator has likened this summer’s catastrophic bushfire season to New York’s Hurricane Sandy, saying the crisis exposes major risks.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/like-new-york-after-sandy-bushfires-expose-major-power-grid-risks-20200109-p53q5o.html
    And Noel Towell writes that Victoria’s state Labor government will sign off on deep new emission cut targets by the end of Australia’s horror bushfire summer, with potential reductions of up to 40 per cent likely to put pressure on the state’s ageing coal-fired power plants.
    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/climate-andrews-eyes-deepest-carbon-cuts-yet-20200109-p53q4f.html
    The Pentagon is preparing to announce that it is “highly likely” a passenger jet that crashed shortly after take-off in Iran, killing all 176 people on board, was actually shot down by Iranian surface-to-air missiles. (Just breaking is Justin Trudeau confirming it.)
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/ukraine-passenger-jet-was-likely-shot-down-by-iran-pentagon-20200110-p53q9l.html
    As the president slurred ritualised abuse of Iran and pleas to NATO, we saw the US’s days as world hegemon dribbling away declares Simon Jenkins.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/09/donald-trump-rant-iran-dying-empire-nato
    It’s horrible to say it but there probably won’t be too many tears shed over this incident in Melbourne.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/victoria/underworld-figure-nabil-maghnie-shot-dead-in-melbourne-s-north-20200109-p53q9b.html
    A public backlash to the royal couple’s walk-out has already begun. And the Duchess is a prime target in a manner typical of much of the UK press.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/prince-harry-s-attempt-to-protect-meghan-will-make-her-a-target-for-hatred-20200109-p53pz7.html
    No wonder Harry and Meghan are quitting. The rightwing press – and their families – left them no choice writes Hadley Freeman.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/09/no-wonder-harry-and-meghan-are-quitting-the-rightwing-press-and-their-families-left-them-no-choice
    Hooray! A psychiatric panel in Israel has found alleged child sex abuser Malka Leifer fit to stand trial and accused her of faking mental illness to avoid extradition, according to her lawyers. What an awful specimen she is!
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/09/alleged-child-abuser-malka-leifer-fit-to-stand-trial-panel-rules
    The easy to dislike David Leyonhjelm has appealed against a court finding that he defamed Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young by calling her a misandrist and hypocrite.
    https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/jan/09/david-leyonhjelm-appeals-against-court-ruling-that-he-defamed-sarah-hanson-young

    Cartoon Corner

    Andrew Dyson and Morrison’s recovery program.

    Cathy Wilcox keeps her foot on the government’s throat.

    Matt Golding




    Peter Broelman

    Alan Moir

    Simon Letch and the troubles of the royal family.

    Johannes Leak at Buckingham Palace.
    https://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/3013607ea9cdeeb60df9d66ff8690529?width=1024

    From the US











  28. Spence @10:39.
    “Labor and Greens don’t have to work out their differences. They just need to campaign for their own policies and not get into debate about what will happen after the next election or spend energy attacking each other. That is not easy as some of the spear throwers on each side prefer attacking each other in a particularly counter productive way than doing the hard yards of explaining why LNP policies are against the interests of most people.”

    +++1

  29. Hatred and utter contempt are two words I will use as to how I feel about the likes of Murdoch and Morrison and all the others deliberately pushing bullshit re fires. Bullshit they know is bullshit The scum don’t give a fuck about all the people in the future who because of the myths they peddle will die and all the people whose lives and livelihood will be ruined . They don’t give a fuck about the ruination of so much of the natural world. No, far far more important for them is political advantage from pushing blame on to ‘greenies’ , ‘green tape’ and the like.

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