EDITOR’S NOTE: We strongly recommend you watch the excellent TV report from Channel 4 News on the sequel to the Australian wildfires disaster – as seen from an international perspective. As the global elite prepare for the Davos summit in Switzerland, the World Economic Forum’s president says all of the five biggest threats to global economic and political stability are linked to the environment. There is a direct link to the newscast at the foot of this post. You may wish to watch it first, and then click the back button to return to our post.
As forests and bush the size of Britain are laid to waste by deadly fires, the Australian PM’s acknowledgment of mistakes is not enough. His lame government needs a new climate change strategy – and soon. Rain has fallen in some of the worst affected areas, but the cost of restoration will far exceed the initial sums allocated to restoration.
Australia’s environmental groups, in a letter to Morrison, have identified 3l species of animals, birds and reptiles now threatened wirh extinction, some of them indigenous to Australia. It is reported one billion animals have been burnt to death.
It’s no laughing matter
That’s not Scott Morrison’s only problem. Two weeks into aa new decade his government is in very poor shape. The ABC’s defemce correspondent, Andrew Greene, reportsthat the $50 billion submarine contract with a French state-owned company is in serious trouble, running over budget and nine months behind schedule. Hard questions need to be asked about whether thecontract should be pulled, and the $400 million spent written off. By the time the submarines are built, they may no longer be fit for purpose.
The Morrison government is also in a fight with its erstwhile strongest supporters – the Australian media. Last Monday the country’s major newspapers published blank front pages, in a rare act of unity complaining against Canberra’s moves to penalise whistleblowing, deny access to information hat would be made public in other democracies and, in some cases, criminalise journalism.
Whether a one day campaign when parliament is on an extended holiday is sensible is a moot point, especially when the newspapers owned by the News Corporation have been accused of misreporting the wildfire crisis, including denials of climate change as a factor, and fake news about most fires being started by arsonists. Indeed Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers have been attacked by the proprietor’s own son, James, still a director of the company, for downplaying the impact of the climate cris, where this week The Guardian reports thaf the oceans – three of them encompassing Australia – are at the hightest temperatures since records began, because of greenhouse gas emissions.
When Canberra eventually gets back to business, it will need to deal with these issues, along with the democratic deficit that now engulfs our languid national capital.
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Also this week’s BBC interview with David Attenborough saying we’ve been putting off dealing with climate change for far too long.