The headline was promising – Gina backs renewables – but not even a Murdoch empire-led campaign could convince Australia’s richest person of the need to urgently reduce greenhouse emissions. In an exclusive interview with Adelaide tabloid the Advertiser, Rinehart expressed concern for poor farmers who couldn’t afford to experiment with solar pumps and electric vehicles like she can.
“We are concerned rushing to reduce emissions will cost the taxpayers billions in subsidies,” Rinehart told the ’Tiser.
“And it doesn’t just stop with the farmers having this problem; city people will find that the cost of their food will have to increase – not a good future for pensioners and others on low incomes especially.”
It was not the vibe the blanket campaign across all the tabloids was going for. After all, on Monday News Corp had promised “only positive stories”.
“Perhaps the major reason that action on climate change has so repeatedly stalled in this country is that the debate has fallen victim to a culture of constant complaint,” the Mission Zero campaign said. “That nothing is ever good enough and everything is too little too late.
“Such extreme negativity does nothing to encourage progress and so here you will see only positive stories: real, practical and pragmatic solutions that will help the planet and also help Australia’s interests as well.”
Rinehart obviously didn’t get the memo.
No holding Bolt back
Credit where credit is due. News Corp promised it wouldn’t “muzzle” its stable of conservative commentators when it launched the Mission Zero campaign and so far Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin have not been fired for not running the company line.
First Bolt, who says he does not agree that drastic action is necessary, blasted the campaign as a “big U-turn”, pointing out the hypocrisy of the move after decades of resistance to climate action.
“Most of these same newspapers campaigned against Kevin Rudd’s global warming policies and against Labor’s later carbon tax,” Bolt said. “You should worry when big business, big media, big government, they all get into bed like this.”
After making headlines for Monday’s editorial, Bolt didn’t stop telling his viewers on Wednesday the push for net zero was “insane”.
“But that is exactly the insanity we have right now with all these global warming hysterics saying get rid of coal,” Bolt said on Sky. “Get rid of the fossil fuels that for decades gave Australia the cheap reliable electricity that’s helped to make us rich.”
Then Credlin, writing in the Australian, was critical of the backflip by Scott Morrison and the Business Council of Australia, saying, “Australia is being asked to jeopardise affordable and reliable fossil-fuel-based power now in the hope something will be developed to replace it sometime in the future, demanding a leap into the dark”.
“This is economically irresponsible but politically it’s also almost bewilderingly stupid.”
Joke’s on them
But it was left to comedian Sammy J to sum up the head-spinning backflip in an ABC sketch in which he plays a News Corp editor telling the newsroom that “climate change is real” and from now on they are going to “report the facts on climate change and back it up with science” – or they will have “net zero advertisers by 2050”.
“I get it, this is confusing,” the editor says as journalists jump out of the window in despair. “We’ve spent two decades actively undermining any pro-climate policy in this country then we become a fully fledged tree-hugging greenie publication overnight. Except you, Andrew – you still get your daily column. You can write whatever you want.”
We know Australian journalist Jonathan Swan received global fame and an Emmy award for his interview with Donald Trump, but has he really wiped his father Norman Swan from the map?
The Weekend Australian mixed the two journalists up in a headline – “How Aunty’s health expert Jonathan Swan got it so wrong” – on a Chris Kenny attack piece on the presenter of the ABC’s Health Report, an embarrassing mistake, given the associate editor of the Oz was getting stuck into Dr Swan over his alleged “mistakes”.
“Swan has been alarmist about the potential threat from Covid and a strong advocate for hard lockdowns and draconian measures,” Kenny railed. “It is little wonder this prescription, most notably imposed by Labor premiers in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, has become the discernible corporate position of the ABC.”
Tomalaris rides off
SBS staff were shocked this week when a curt email went out saying cycling presenter Mike Tomalaris was “moving on from SBS” after 30 years. And it was effective “this week”.
Tomalaris started at SBS in 1987 and has covered the Tour de France for 15 years, been a football commentator, and reported and presented the news.
As the SBS website says: “For cycling fans around Australia, Mike Tomalaris is cycling.”
Tomalaris declined to comment and an SBS spokesperson would not elaborate on the reasons behind the abrupt departure.
“Mike Tomalaris is moving on from SBS after more than 30 years with the network,” she said. “We wish him well for his next chapter.”
With the network securing the rights to broadcast the Tour de France for the next 10 years, it’s a curious exit.
The executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies, Tom Switzer, a former opinion editor for the Australian, is an occasional newspaper columnist, has appeared on ABC’s Q&A and is a long-time presenter on ABC’s Radio National.
This week we were surprised to see he had joined the Liberal Democratic party.
“I’m certainly not running for office!” Switzer told Weekly Beast when we asked him what prompted the move.
“I’m not a political activist. To be an MP or senator is to feed one’s vanity and starve his/her self respect. My decision to become a low-paying member is just a philosophical statement: I think that, all things considered, the true party of liberalism — small government, individual freedom, free choice, etc — is the not the Liberals but the Liberal Democrats. I’m sure I’m not alone among genuine liberals in thinking that in recent times the Liberal party betrayed their ideals.”
Fletcher here to help
Foxtel’s new streaming service Flash was unveiled this week at a virtual event streamed from Gravity Studios in Sydney on Wednesday, attended by none other than the minister for communications, Paul Fletcher, who congratulated Foxtel on “this exciting new service”.
Fletcher is of course the minister responsible for the ABC, but that has never stopped his administration giving a leg-up to Foxtel.
The government gave another $10m to the Murdoch-controlled Foxtel last year to boost women’s and underrepresented sport, bringing to $40m the total taxpayer funding for the subscription TV service since 2017.
“So, congratulations Foxtel on the relentless innovation you’re showing in developing new products, giving Australians the very best that’s on offer and congratulations particularly on the launch of Flash,” the minister said.
Flash has signed up 20 news services but they are predominantly international, meaning the only local news will be provided by Sky News Australia and news.com.au, which is not a broadcaster. Foxtel is desperately trying to get the ABC on board but, sources say, has offered “well below” the market value for ABC News content and all offers have been rejected.