Australian news, and some related international items

Scott Morrison’s AUKUS deal designed to win election, not make Australia safe

That Fella Down Under! Scott Morrison’s AUKUS deal designed to win election, not make Australia safe
By Michael West| September 17, 2021  

Strap in for a media blitz on the threat from China. Prime Minister #ThatFellaDownUnder Scott Morrison and his merry band are about to take a war to the election. Michael West reports.

US President Joe Biden might have forgotten his name but, in the Canberra Bubble, Scott Morrison is unforgettable, a marketing maestro, a prince among men; literally, because there don’t seem to be any women among his phalanx of advisers.

The PM’s army of propagandists has been working around the clock over the past two days marketing the latest announcement to a fawning press: AUKUS, a new “Alliance for the Ages as China Threat Grows”, according to The Australian. And what results! 

Christian Porter’s secret legal payments are off the front pages, as is the JobKeeper mega-rort, the biggest transfer of wealth in history from working Australians to wealthy Australians and foreign corporations. 

Early Thursday morning there was no AUKUS. The AFR did have a scoop though, splashing with: “PM to announce $90b French submarine deal is dead”. 

That story soon vanished from the website. Bad headline. Around 7.30, The Australian was trumpeting “A major coup for Australia”. A veritable onslaught of gushing PR ensued: the new “Forever Alliance” as Nine put it, or “Friends in Freedom” as The Australian glowed. 

“Australia confirms landmark nuclear submarine deal and it’s ‘China’s worst nightmare’,” declared a truckling

That Fella Down Under

The funny thing was that US President Joe Biden seemed to have forgotten Scott Morrison’s name as he announced this new AUKUS alliance with Boris Johnson. “That Fella Down Under” he called him, casually gesticulating in Scott Morrison’s general direction.

Perhaps it was a deliberate thing, such was the PM’s unctuous toadying to the buffoon Donald Trump. 

n any case, Australia’s massive $90 billion submarine deal with the French had been junked in a jiffy. Good thing too, because if the French had got involved in this new alliance for freedom it might have been more appropriately monikered FAUKUS.

What that will cost in tearing up this contract with the Gauls, who knows? Probably in the billions. We’ve toasted $2b so far.

What will the new subs cost? Probably more than $100 billion. As jobless Australians are degraded with their measly $4 a day rise in welfare payments, you can count on one thing; the sheer, incontestable incompetence of this government will ensure a new maelstrom of waste and spending.

They struggle to get anything right, except announcements, media relations, scare campaigns at election time. 

That King of Lemons the F-35 Strike Fighter is a gilten cadaver now, debunked even by the top military figure in the US. The chair of the Armed Services Committee Democrat Adam Smith reckons they should stop throwing money down “that particular rat hole”.

For Australia, the cost of those 72 lemons is $17 billion, before running into the hundreds of billions to be maintained for life, if they can fly.

Where is New Zealand?

In light of the long-standing ANZUS treaty there was one notable omission in the AUKUS line up, New Zealand. Notwithstanding that NZAUKUS or AUKUSNZ is far too ugly an acronym, the Kiwis are too sensible to blow up their biggest trading partner, China, as the Coalition Government here has proven so adroit at doing.

Unlike #ThatFellaDownUnder, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern would have the sense to ask her people first if they wanted to poke the bear, tear up billions on last century military hardware and park nuclear submarines in their harbours. They don’t. They are sticking to their no-nuclear policy and won’t even let the subs in their waters, said Ardern

The whole thing is so last century, and so dangerous in geopolitical terms. To deflect from their abominable policies at home, to deflect from the retinue of scandals the likes of Christian Porter, JobKeeper, Team Australia, as the AFR calls them, or Team #ThatFellaDownUnder on Twitter, now appears certain to fight the Election by beating up the China military threat.

Murdoch loves it, Keating not

There is nothing like an enemy to exploit for political purposes, a military threat, no matter how ludicrous and unlikely. Naturally, it plays well for the craven Murdoch press which adores a war; has cheered avidly every failed US invasion from Vietnam, through Iraq to Afghanistan.

Gird the loins then for the daily barrage of provocative, misleading nonsense in the corporate media, to be followed daily – with a tad less fervour – on the airwaves of the ABC.

China has zero intention of invading Australia but already, thanks to this reckless messaging by a suborned corporate media, half the country thinks they might…………..

What is this deal which #ThatFellaDownUnder has signed up for, besides electoral fodder and domestic distraction value? Presumably we buy defence tech from the US, so it’s commercial for them. If the F-35 debacle is anything to go by they will control our submarines anyway. We weren’t allowed to control the software in our own billion-dollar jets.

AUKUS reaffirms ties with the “Mother Country” Great Britain, which has ballsed-up its own markets thanks to Brexit.

Er … uranium?

It begs the question of uranium. Do we use our own uranium, breaking tradition with decades of sensible nuclear policy? What do we do with the toxic waste? Where are these things going to be berthed? South Australia, at the bottom of the country, or at the top, somewhere near the Port of Darwin which the Coalition sold to the Chinese?

The warmongers lobby is loving it. Chief among them the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) whose executive director Peter Jennings suddenly enthused: “AUKUS sets a better direction for Australia’s defense”.

But of course, ASPI is funded by Defence, the department that is – it is paid by the Government to lobby the Government – and by foreign weapons manufacturers and the media leaks are already foreshadowing a big escalation on defence spending. The irony is that Jennings himself, a champion of the French subs deal, was awarded France’s top honour, Le Légion d’Honneur.   

“Vive Australia’s choice of a French submarine,” headlined the story in The Australian.

The silence of the Labor

That Fella Down Under has also managed to wedge Labor. Not matter how foolish and provocative is AUKUS, you won’t hear a ruckus from Albo. The Opposition Leader is sticking steadfastly to his small target tactics, as well he would. Were he to kick up a stink about China provocation and cuddling up to the US and the Poms, Albanese would be pounced upon as a chicken, anti US, pro China.

And so billions will be squandered and hostilities will increase with our major trading partner and there is unlikely to be a squeak of disapproval from Labor. That of course leaves it open slather for a PMO media campaign to scare as many Australians as they can while delivering enormous profits to foreign weapons manufacturers.

September 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

News Corpse’s new snide approach on climate change – to help Morrison win next election?

“This may be more about giving Morrison cover going into an election year, by establishing the pathetically low bar of ‘net zero carbon by 2050’ as somehow constituting meaningful action, particularly given that he is being roundly criticised by the world community for his meager climate commitments going into COP26,” Mann said on Friday…….

“Focusing on a target of 2050, three decades away, kicks the can so far down the road that it’s largely meaningless.”….… 

News Corp about-turn on emissions too little, too late, scientists say, The Age, By Nick O’Malley and Amelia McGuire, September 11, 2021 ”’……….. When The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported that News Corp papers were planning a climate push, it made news around the world……

One of the Journal’s own former editors tweeted of the paper’s climate coverage, “No group has been more clueless, duplicitous or irresponsible on climate change than the WSJ edit and op-ed crew.”

He attached a string of climate sceptic headlines from the past six weeks…….

It is hard to exaggerate how News Corp’s coverage of climate change – and of climate scientists themselves – have scarred the sector. In his recent book The New Climate Wars, leading climatologist Michael Mann wrote that the company’s amplification of a false conspiracy known as “climategate” helped derail the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, setting back global efforts to rein in warming by crucial years.

In Australia critics say the coverage has contributed to decades of policy inertia on the issue………..

In December 2020, Wendy Bacon and Arunn Jegan analysed all news, features, opinion pieces, letters and editorials discussing climate change that appeared in The Daily Telegraph, Herald-Sun, Courier Mail and The Australian between April 2019 and March 2020.

They found 45 per cent of all coverage either rejected or cast doubt on consensus scientific findings. Their research asserted that most News Corp reporters do not promote sceptical views, but of 55 per cent of stories that accepted climate science, misunderstandings about that science were almost always promoted rather than explained, and the reporting on the effects of climate change was negligible.

Half of the news and feature stories either had no source or one source.

Nearly two thirds of published opinion pieces were sceptical of climate science. The top five climate sceptics were Sky News presenters Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair, Peta Credlin, Peter Gleeson and Chris Kenny…….

According to Marian Wilkinson, whose recent book The Carbon Club is a forensic analysis of the interplay between the political, media and industry actors who have stalled action on climate in Australia for decades, News Corp’s coverage influenced other media in the country.

She believes even the ABC “pulled its punches” on climate coverage for fear it would look soft when compared with the Murdoch press’s hardline climate denialism.

Wilkinson is one of many who believe that Australian climate and energy policy has been rudderless for decades, but she does not blame News alone.

Rather she says the Murdoch empire helped derail climate action along with well-connected fossil fuel industry lobbyists and complicit politicians from both parties………

“This may be more about giving Morrison cover going into an election year, by establishing the pathetically low bar of ‘net zero carbon by 2050’ as somehow constituting meaningful action, particularly given that he is being roundly criticised by the world community for his meager climate commitments going into COP26,” Mann said on Friday…….

“Focusing on a target of 2050, three decades away, kicks the can so far down the road that it’s largely meaningless.”…….

September 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media, politics | Leave a comment

News Corpse’s climate change shame

News Corp’s climate change shame. The Age, September 9, 2021 From next month, News Corp Australia will end its long-standing editorial hostility towards carbon reduction policies and advocate that the world’s leading economies hit net zero emissions by 2050.

The outsized influence of News Corp in Australia on public discourse – and perhaps more importantly on the right-wing rump of the Coalition – still puts the handbrake on reform. Despite growing pressure from other like-minded Western nations, led by Britain and America, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has for months been slow-walking towards a net zero emissions target by 2050 and has failed to embrace the tougher action by 2030 the world is demanding.

No doubt Mr Morrison’s approach factors in the backlash from within his own government, a faction led these days by Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and undergirded by News Corp’s commentators…….

there is reason to be doubtful. Only a month ago, in response to the latest report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, News Corp commentator Andrew Bolt repeatedly chose to mock it with arguments that would not stand up in a high school science class, including the bizarre claim that “if a warming world is better for plants, why not for humans?” It’s hard to imagine him changing……

September 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | Leave a comment

Sloppy and unconvincing pro nuclear propaganda from the Australian Nationals and the Murdochracy

The Australian nuclear promotion is less persuasive. Coming predominantly from Murdoch media, the content of nuclear propaganda is sloppy, inaccurate, and at times downright weird

The Nationals and Murdoch media support nuclear power ahead of COP26, Independent Australia,By Noel Wauchope | 9 September 2021.

On 1 September 2021, Senator Matt Canavan called for Australia to boycott the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in November. 

Was he speaking on behalf of the coal or oil industries? Well, not exactly. 

This was the latest and strangest call from Australia’s noisy little band of pro-nuclear promoters. Canavan was responding to the news that the nuclear industry has been banned from having exhibits at COP26. He complained that the Climate Summit was a ”sham” for excluding nuclear power, a view supported by MP Ken O’Dowd.

O’Dowd said that nuclear power should be at the top of the climate agenda. Other National Party notables, David Littleproud and Bridget McKenzie, recently spoke out for nuclear power.

Like the nuclear industry worldwide, they are now taking up the cause of climate action with a vengeance. The nuclear lobby’s motives are clear. First, they likely want the tax exemptions and other subsidies that come with being declared as clean and sustainable. Secondly, they need that seal of approval, the public respectability which goes with acquiring the clean and green label.

The global lobby’s most persuasive argument is that a nuclear reactor’s operation generates a lot of electricity, with only a minuscule production of CO2

They don’t, of course, talk about the processes of the nuclear fuel chain from uranium mining through to demolition of dead reactors and disposal of wastes. Their favourite phrase ”emissions-free energy” doesn’t count emissions of radioactive strontium-90.

The Australian nuclear promotion is less persuasive. Coming predominantly from Murdoch media, the content of nuclear propaganda is sloppy, inaccurate, and at times downright weird. The Australian newspaper provides two outstanding examples

The first is this eye-catching article Savvy activists cast nuclear benefits in a fresh green light  subtitled:

‘For baby boomers, nuclear weapons and nuclear energy were conflated as an existential risk. This created an irrational fear that persists today.’

From the outset, the argument is an attack on anti-nuclear activists, instead of arguing the case for nuclear power.

The hero of the piece is Zion Lights, formerly of Extinction Rebellion, who created her own pro-nuclear group, Emergency Reactor.

She works closely with Michael Shellenberger, who, himself, has lost the support of the general nuclear lobby, due to his many inaccurate statements. Zion Lights and The Australian go into a lengthy digression on the foibles of the baby boomers, who have ‘conflated nuclear weapons and nuclear energy as an existential risk that could wipe out humanity’.

The health effects of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are minimised and renewable energy is rubbished as being ineffective.

The author, Claire Lehmann, concludes that the too-slow movement towards carbon neutrality is the fault of the misguided anti-nuclear baby boomers.

The second article is ‘Nuclear stacks up — cue the meltdown‘ by Greg Sheridan, who starts by accusing Australians as being ‘environmental outliers’ for prohibiting nuclear power…………..

the main thrust of this pro-nuclear argument moves on to an attack on Labor, the Greens and so forth:

‘… the deadly, wretched, wholly negative, nihilistic scare campaigns and demonising that the ALP left and its Green allies have conducted against nuclear energy.’

There is no attempt to address any of the worrying issues that surround nuclear power  costs, safety, environmental damage, radioactive waste. He reminds us that Bill Gates backs nuclear power. Well of course Gates does  he owns a nuclear power company, Terra Power.

He also quotes the European Union (EU) as backing nuclear power. While several EU countries do have nuclear power, the EU as a whole is not recommending nuclear powers as a climate solution. In fact, the nuclear industry is banned from exhibiting at the green zone at COP26………

As I write this comes the breathtaking news that the Murdoch media is changing its attitude to global warming. From a rather crude sort of climate denialism, they will likely move to supporting technical “climate fixes” spruiked by the fossil fuel industries. This is a more subtle way of sabotaging real climate action. 

Perhaps we can expect them also to provide something more credible on the nuclear issue in the future.,15496

September 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media, politics | Leave a comment

Murdoch’s News Corpse hasn’t seen the light on climate – they’re just updating their tactics —

Is News Corp really seeing the light on climate? More likely it’s pivoting to a modern style of greenwashing and delay, just like Morrison. .

What might reasonably seem like a surprising change of heart in News Corp’s stance on climate is actually a long-term tactical shift that has been occurring for at least a few years. Whatever policies they failed to destroy through their earlier campaigns, they will try and reframe through racist, nationalistic, technocratic and pro-business frames.

Whatever policies they can delay or destroy, they’ll simply keep running scare campaigns about, insisting that ‘the balance isn’t right’, and that the threat of climate action is greater than climate change, as they always have (in Australia, News Corp’s partnerships with Google and Facebook mean these campaigns to destabilise climate action are growing more powerful and more harmful every day). When the next federal election comes around, the “COSTS OF NET ZERO” scare campaigns will ramp up in Australia as they are in the UK, and News Corp will be at the forefront, pleading that acting too fast will cause catastrophe. Absolutely mark my damn words: this is what will happen.

Net zero by 2050 isn’t enough. We’ll know that the denialism has truly ended when organisations like News Corp treat the IPCC’s latest report like it’s real.

News Corp hasn’t seen the light on climate – they’re just updating their tactics,, 5 Sept 21, Have you heard the good news? One of the key institutions holding back climate action in Australia – Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – is suddenly on Team Climate Action! Today, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the company’s Australian outlets are set to launch a campaign urging “the world’s leading economies” to embrace a target of net zero emissions by 2050; to be fronted by columnist Joe Hildebrand. The details aren’t out yet, but I contend that we can comfortably predict what it will look like.

It will be a centrist, pro-business approach to climate action. It will make a show of dismissing the “hysterics” of climate activists, while urging governments, including Australia’s, to set distant, meaningless and non-binding climate targets. It won’t allow any room for emissions reductions in line with the 1.5C goals or the Paris agreement; no short-term meaningful targets or actions such as those highlighted in the IEA’s recent ‘net zero’ report. It won’t argue for a coal phase-out by 2030, or the end of all new coal, gas and oil mines in Australia, or a ban on combustion engine sales by 2030-2035; all vital actions if Australia is to align with any net zero target.

It’ll champion controversial technologies like CCS and fossil hydrogen. It’ll highlight personal responsibility: tree planting, recycling and electric vehicle purchases. It will not propose or argue in favour of any new policies; at least none that might reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

How can we know all this before we’ve seen the actual campaign? It’s easy – let me explain.

Done with denial

Here’s a remarkable statistic for you. In the month of August this year, global media coverage of climate saw its highest volume since the December 2009 Copenhagen climate meetings. That’s partly down to the release of the IPCC’s AR6 Working Group one report into climate change, six years in the making.

That report reiterated something extremely important: every single tonne of carbon dioxide does damage. Actions must be immediate and aggressive to align with the most ambitious pathways. Delay is deadly.

No media coverage records for Australia: coverage of climate change has dropped almost entirely off the radar relative to the high volumes of late 2019 and early 2020 (partly driven by the Black Summer bushfires).

During the Black summer bushfires of 2019-20, I did a few interviews about Australia with baffled and perplexed international reporters. “What is going on over there? Why did the people elect such a climate laggard?”. A key part of my response was to pin blame on Australia’s media industry. Mostly on News Corp, which dominates the country’s uniquely concentrated media landscape, and which is notorious for its heavily politicised climate views. In fact, a recent study quantified this in historical terms, analysing media coverage within Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia for its climate science accuracy.

By a comfortable margin, News Corp’s Daily Telegraph and the Courier Mail scored the second and fourth worst among every media outlet analysed between 2005 and 2019 (The Australian wasn’t included in the analysis). Australia has, in general, seen the least accurate climate science coverage from 2013 onwards, despite a general rising trend in scientific accuracy over the past decade. For a decade and a half, News Corp lied about climate science with the blatant aim of protecting the revenue streams of the fossil fuel industry, and protecting its political allies.

This is important as a historical study, but today, it’s increasingly irrelevant. As the study points out, the accuracy of climate science has essentially plateaued in media coverage, with outright denial consigned to the dustbin.

The authors highlights that “the terrain of climate debates has shifted in recent years away from strict denial of the scientific consensus on human causes of climate change toward ‘discourses of delay’ that focus on undermining support for specific policies meant to address climate change”. The fundamental goal is the same – staving off action – but the way it manifests is very different.

Delay is the main game

There are many substantial recent examples of this. A good one was the severe blackouts that spread across Texas in February this year, which were immediately blamed on wind power failures, alongside easily debunked claims that snows and ice were blocking solar panels and freezing up wind turbines in Texas and around the world.

This isn’t climate change denial: it’s “mitigation denial“. That is, a move away from denying the problem exists and towards decrying its solutions as utterly unacceptable. An important part of this performance is pretending to have a moment of having seen the light, but then continuing to commit the same acts of delay as before.

Murdoch’s The Sun, in the UK, did precisely this. In October 2020, The Sun launched a ‘Green Team‘ campaign that focused on ‘individual responsibility’ in the lead-up to COP26, to be held in Glasgow at the end of this year. It wasn’t long until they were celebrating their own victory in freezing fossil fuel taxes.

how it started how it’s going

— Zach Boren (@zdboren) March 3, 2021

The UK’s Daily Express, another hyper-conservative outlet that ‘saw the light’, continues to publish articles attacking climate activism and, more significantly, framing climate action in an explicitly “eco nationalist” way, as UK writer Sam Knights highlights in this article in Novara media. He says,

“Make no mistake: these newspapers are not your friends. They are not your allies. Their politics are not in any way ecological. They are deeply racist, reactionary, right-wing publications. Their sudden interest in climate change is not to be celebrated – it is a terrifying indication of things to come:”

Last week, @GreenpeaceUK@WWF@nationaltrust, and @friends_earth signed up to the “green crusade” of the Daily Express. Just ten days later, the rightwing newspaper has already run two articles attacking Greta Thunberg… Surely these charities will now withdraw their support?

— Sam Knights (@samjknights) February 18, 2021

It’s notable that these examples seem to manifest in the UK, and less so in similar anglophone countries like Canada or the US or New Zealand. Those are led by centre-left parties and politicians, but the UK’s conservative embrace of climate action is surely a model that Australia’s PM Scott Morrison pines to replicate. Sure, the UK certainly is miles ahead of Australia in terms of climate action – but there remains a very significant gap between Boris Johnson’s climate policies and where the country actually needs to be to align with the carbon budget that its independent climate advisor body has laid out.

A technocratic, rich white country with a government more concerned with optics than doing what needs to be done to protect people from being hurt by fossil fuels. Morrison’s obviously inspired by the UK, but Australia’s conservative media outlets are increasingly inspired, too.

Net zero by sometime after I retire, please

This is all coming to a head at COP26. George Brandis, Australia’s attorney general, who once declared that “coal is very good for humanity indeed”, is now High Commissioner for Australia to the UK, and has significantly ramped up the broader greenwashing exercise that the government has been enacting over the latter half of last year and most of this one. As I wrote in RenewEconomy, that means creative accounting, dodgy charts and deceptive framing, all designed to paper over Australia’s significant failure to reign in emissions.

Morrison will almost certainly set a net zero by 2050 target before COP26, but it’ll be packaged with a collection of loop holes that allow for rising emissions in the short term. It is dawning on the government just as it is dawning on News Corp: the best way to protect the fossil fuel industry today is not to deny the science, but to pretend to accept it. This is not the end of climate denial. It’s evolution from a common ancestor.

That this effort will be lead by Joe Hildebrand is telling enough. His previous work on climate change does exactly what a centre-right campaign like this would be best at – decrying both sides as ‘hysterical’ while failing to propose anything meaningful or substantial.

This @Joe_Hildebrand piece is a near-perfect example of what I mean when I say that this is more about reassurance and excuses than it is about persuasion.

This is about figuring how to be internally okay with their own antagonism towards climate action.

— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) October 6, 2019

We can also see hints of what a conservative climate message looks like in a previous editorial from the more progressive News Corp outlet, NT News, which – of course – continues to host syndicated climate denial from the Sky News Australia channel. Ditto for News dot com.

This is News Corp’s northern territory outlet.

Note the ‘affordable’ – a reference to the conservative meme that decarbonisation is bad because it’s too expensive.

Even in accepting the need for action, they need to throw in messaging from previous fossil fuel advocacy.

— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) January 15, 2020

What might reasonably seem like a surprising change of heart in News Corp’s stance on climate is actually a long-term tactical shift that has been occurring for at least a few years. Whatever policies they failed to destroy through their earlier campaigns, they will try and reframe through racist, nationalistic, technocratic and pro-business frames.

Whatever policies they can delay or destroy, they’ll simply keep running scare campaigns about, insisting that ‘the balance isn’t right’, and that the threat of climate action is greater than the threat of climate change, as they always have (in Australia, News Corp’s partnerships with Google and Facebook mean these campaigns to destabilise climate action are growing more powerful and more harmful every day). When the next federal election comes around, the “COSTS OF NET ZERO” scare campaigns will ramp up in Australia as they are in the UK, and News Corp will be at the forefront, pleading that acting too fast will cause catastrophe. Absolutely mark my damn words: this is what will happen.

Net zero by 2050 isn’t enough. We’ll know that the denialism has truly ended when organisations like News Corp treat the IPCC’s latest report like it’s real. That is, when they acknowledge that every additional unit of greenhouse gases causes harm to life on Earth, and that actions to stop their release must be as fast as possible. That climate change is an emergency that requires rapid action to wind down the fossil fuel industry in a just and equitable way, and that its replacement must be grown to full size with just as much passion and urgency.

This campaign won’t look anything like that. We know what it will look like – and it won’t be anything surprising at all.

September 6, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | Leave a comment

Murdoch’s THE AUSTRALIAN grudgingly admits that nuclear power has no future in Australia

Uncharted waters leave little room for nuclear option, THE AUSTRALIAN,   GRAHAM LLOYD   AUGUST 25, 2021 The proposals being put forward are not necessarily geared to supporting any one option. ………..

Generation is not the only problem raised by the lower-emissions transition. The ESB makes it clear that massive investments are still needed in grid infrastructure to accommodate an electricity system more dependent on intermittent sources of power…..

It favours the creation of renewable energy zones to give the benefit of economies of scale to the infrastructure investment.

Individual states will also be given greater powers to make decisions to safeguard their own interests within the national market.

The ESB is probably correct that community concerns about the impact of fossil fuel generation on carbon emissions, together with the declining financial viability of thermal coal generation, leaves little interest or commercial appetite for future investment in thermal coal generation.

Supporters of the nuclear option have little to cheer about in this transition road map.

The big focus on renewables backed up by batteries from electric cars and sophisticated management systems and minimal gas leaves little room for a return on investment for a [nuclear] technology…..

August 26, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Political bribes beat the planet as gas fracking gets public hand-outs

Beetaloo Boondoggle: political bribes beat the planet as gas fracking gets public hand-outs, Michael West Media,  Michael West| August 26, 2021  

As a block, the two major parties voted to give our money, public money, to corporations to drill for coal seam gas in the Northern Territory, to open up a gigantic new territory, the Beetaloo Basin, for fracking.

The latest capitulation to corporate profits came yesterday morning as both the Coalition and Labor opposed a disallowance motion in Parliament to prevent $50m in public grants going to gas explorers in the Northern Territory. It was yet another political capitulation for corporate bribery, gas company donations.

And so it was that they voted to wreck the planet for their own financial gain. They even voted for money over common sense; because Australia is the world’s biggest gas exporter already. We don’t need more gas, that’s a myth peddled by Australia’s most powerful lobby groups such as APPEA, in turn controlled by foreign fossil fuel corporations such as Shell and Exxon.

They voted to make a US billionaire richer. For, among the prospective winners from this act of political betrayal, is Tamboran Resources, a speculative explorer backed by a US shale-oil billionaire.1

That company, incredibly, is threatening to sue Michael West Media and gas analyst Bruce Robertson from IEEFA, for defamation. So, effectively, Parliament has voted to give money to a US billionaire threatening to sue a small independent journalism business in Australia for exercising free speech, threatening to soak up the time in the Australian courts attempting to muzzle journalists with the menace of making them bankrupt.  

Another winner from the escapade is senior Liberal Party figure Paul Espie, whose Empire Energy is slated to get half of the $50m in funding from his Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling grant program.

This is not just a case of our politicians being bought off yet again by corporations, bribed to push through a policy which wrecks the planet, it is a case of them using our money, public funds to pay foreign interests to poison the water tables of the world’s driest continent, to contaminate our most precious resource.

Meanwhile, 2700 kilometres south-east at Narrabri in NSW, Santos has won its long battle against farmers and the local community to frack for gas. 

Santos is a large political donor to both major parties………..

August 26, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media, politics | Leave a comment

White Man’s Media: Rupert Murdoch and the US Imperium- Australia is its tool

White Man’s Media: Rupert Murdoch and the US Imperium, By John Menadue|August 24, 2021, Western media, a tool of the political, military and business establishment, have played a part in the killing of millions in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, writes John Menadue. In turn, Australia’s media is a tool of this “US Imperium”. This is the first in White Man’s Media, a series to be published in Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations

Australia’s media does not just have a problem being dominated by legacy US and UK media. We have a particular problem. Its name is Rupert Murdoch, an American citizen who owns two-thirds of Australia’s metropolitan dailies, a monopoly Pay TV licence in Foxtel, and more.

News Corp was a key supporter of the unmitigated disaster which was the Iraq War. Of the 173 Murdoch papers worldwide only one, the Hobart Mercury, opposed that war, a war sometimes described as ‘the Murdoch War’. 

Murdoch told us in 2003, “I think (George W) Bush acted very morally, very correctly. US troops will soon be welcomed as liberators”. 

His Foreign Editor on The Australian Greg Sheridan could not contain himself. “The bold eagle of American power is aloft, high above the humble earth. For as it soars and sweeps it sees victory, power and opportunity”. 

Sheridan is still in his job. Murdoch prefers loyalty to competence in all those around him, including his family.

Warmongers and profiteers

In wars, Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation see “victory, power and opportunity” too. Rupert Murdoch himself is still in his job.

Even some of the legacy media apologised for their support of the illegal war in Iraq. But never Rupert Murdoch or, for that matter, former Australian prime minister John Howard.

News Corp in Australia, for well over a decade, has also led the campaign of denial on climate change. This company has become a key part of a US military/business/security complex which has exercised destructive power for generations, and is now demonising China.

As  Alex Lo wrote in August, “It has long been known that the Department of Defense in the US and other governments such as the CIA, not only support film and cable production in Hollywood but also actively intervene and manipulate their content”.

And in June, Lo described how a long list of former US security chiefs such as John Brennan and James Clapper joined US media – NBC, MSNBC and CNN.

Australian security heads have been leading the demonisation of China with help from the Five Eyes. But we get a double-whammy when our derivative media draws heavily on US legacy media that in turn is heavily influenced by former US security chiefs with their ‘expert opinions’.

This legacy media frames our view of the world, a view which we accept as almost god-given, a colonial Western media mindset with racist undertones.

We need to break free of that mindset if we are to build a secure future in our region and avoid being drawn into one folly after another by the US Imperium.

This legacy media frames our view of the world, a view which we accept as almost god-given, a colonial Western media mindset with racist undertones.

We need to break free of that mindset if we are to build a secure future in our region and avoid being drawn into one folly after another by the US Imperium.

For John Menadue’s full story, please visit Australia’s leading public policy journal Pearls and Irritations

John was once the top executive for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in Sydney. He has also served as Ambassador to Japan, chief executive of Qantas and the top political adviser to both Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam.

August 24, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

How War Profiteers Manufacture Consent

How War Profiteers Manufacture Consent, Consortium News, August 13, 2021  Governments and war profiteers fund think tank reports that mass media then pass off as news, writes Caitlin Johnstone.By Caitlin Johnstone

“Think tank” is a good and accurate label, not because a great deal of thought happens in them, but because they’re dedicated to controlling what people think, and because they are artificial enclosures for slimy creatures. Their job, generally speaking, is to concoct and market reasons why it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid.

And it works. Because of the efforts of warmonger-funded think tanks like the Lowy Institute, Center for a New American Security, and the profoundly odious Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), more and more Australian brains are being turned into soup by ridiculous propaganda narratives about China posing a meaningful threat to them. One of the weirdest things about the mass media propaganda that manipulates the way people think, act and vote to maintain the status quo is that mainstream news outlets routinely cite the employees of think tanks that are sponsored by war profiteers and government powers as expert sources for their reports. And they just get away with it.

To pick one of nearly infinite possible examples, here in Australia the Murdoch press are currently citing a report generated through the funding of governments and weapons manufacturers to whip up public hysteria about the ridiculous fantasy that China might attack us.

The most egregious of these is a write-up from Sky News with the headline, “Lowy Institute report: China possesses ability to ‘strike Australia’ with long-range missiles, bombers.“

On social media Sky News is sharing this story with the even more incendiary caption “China now has the military arsenal to pose the greatest threat to the Australian mainland since World War II, experts warn.”

The “experts” in question are the Lowy Institute, named after its billionaire founder, which is funded by multiple branches of the Australian government including ASIO and the Department of Defence, by major financial institutions and by weapons manufacturers like Boeing.

The author of the Lowy Institute report  is Thomas Shugart, himself an employee of the notorious Center for a New American Security, a Biden administration-aligned warmongering think tank that receives funding from top war profiteers Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, as well as the U.S. State Department and numerous other governments.

So, in summary, government agencies and war profiteers paid for a report which manufactures consent for their agendas among policymakers and the public, and mass media institutions passed this off as “news.”

And this is exactly what these think tanks exist to do: cook up narratives which benefit their immensely powerful and unfathomably psychopathic sponsors, and insert those narratives at key points of influence.

“Think tank” is a good and accurate label, not because a great deal of thought happens in them, but because they’re dedicated to controlling what people think, and because they are artificial enclosures for slimy creatures. Their job, generally speaking, is to concoct and market reasons why it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid.

And it works. Because of the efforts of warmonger-funded think tanks like the Lowy Institute, Center for a New American Security, and the profoundly odious Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), more and more Australian brains are being turned into soup by ridiculous propaganda narratives about China posing a meaningful threat to them.

As The Conversation highlighted last month, a poll conducted by that same Lowy Institute claims that “only 16% of surveyed Australians [express] trust in China compared with 52% just three years ago,” that a “similar number of Australians think China will launch an armed attack on Australia (42%) as on Taiwan (49%),” and that “more Australians (13%) than Taiwanese (4%) think a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is likely sometime soon.”

Zombie Outbreak

You can understand why the Lowy Institute would want to show off numbers like that to potential sponsors, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are entirely accurate; I’ve started conversations with complete strangers here in Victoria recently and seen them start babbling about how awful China is within a few minutes, completely out of the blue. It’s like watching a zombie outbreak in real time.

And this is of course entirely by design. Because of its useful geostrategic location in relation to China, Australia has been turned into a functional U.S. military/intelligence asset so crucial that multiple coups have been instituted here to ensure we remain aligned with the Pentagon against Beijing. You can’t have the locals meddling with the gears of your war machine with pesky little nuisances like the democratic process, so you’ve got to keep them aggressively propagandized.

This is why our consciousness is continually pummeled with think tank-manufactured narratives about China. An attention-grabbing headline about the big scary Chinese boogeyman will almost always be authored by a sleazy think tank denizen or be based on the work of one.

A few weeks ago 60 Minutes Australia ran an unbelievably hysterical segment branding New Zealand “New Xi-Land” because its government didn’t perfectly align with Washington on one particular aspect of its Cold War agenda, and it featured an interview with an Australian Strategic Policy Institute spinmeister as well as the actual ASPI office.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute is cited by mass media outlets around the world and is funded by, you guessed it, governments and war profiteers. According to APAC News’ Marcus Reubenstein, ASPI is funded by all the usual weapons manufacturers, by the U.S. State Department and other governments.

“ASPI has received funding from the governments of Britain, Japan and Taiwan as well as NATO,” Reubenstein writes. “Among its corporate supporters are global weapons makers ThalesBAE SystemsRaytheonSAABNorthrop GrummanMDBA Missile Systems and Naval Group. Yet their contribution of over $330,000 last year is dwarfed by that of a handful of government departments and agencies.”

Media citation of warmonger-funded think tanks is common throughout the Western world. Government-sponsored imperialist spin factories like Bellingcat are routinely cited by the mainstream media, and those citations are leant credibility by the fawning puff pieces which those media institutions regularly churn out about the propaganda firm.

The fact that disguising statements by propagandists who are sponsored by governments and war profiteers is journalistic malpractice should be obvious to everyone in the world, and if media and education systems were doing their jobs instead of indoctrinating society into accepting the status quo, it would be. But propaganda only works if you don’t realize you’re being propagandized, and keeping people from realizing this is itself a part of the propaganda…

Make a fortune killing people and selling their bodies and you’d be remembered as the century’s worst monster. Make the same fortune selling the weapons used to kill the same number of people in wars you propagandized into existence and you’re a respected job creator.

Absolutely appalling.

August 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper sinks to a new low in pro nuclear propaganda.

at left Zion Lights

Today’s THE AUSTRALIAN carries this article ”Savvy activists cast nuclear benefits in a fresh green light”. The article is by Claire Lehmann, who must be a real sucker to fall for such purile pro nuke spin, or , more likely, knows where the money is, in writing for News Corpse.

Claire Lehmann would appear to have swallowed the spin of Zion Lights. Zion Lights is certainly a talented self-propagandist, and is loved by the nuclear industry, because she pitches her pro nuke spin to young people, using popular media – Tok Tok and Instagram etc.

Below, on today’s Antinuclear, I’m republishing 2 articles which give some context to the background of Zion Lights.

July 5, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Murdoch’s NewsCorpse trying hard to get the Australian Government to privatise the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Privatising the ABC: What’s the Scam? West | Jun 11, 2021 | What’s the scam?

Murdoch’s maddies at Sky News and The Australian have been banging on, more shrilly than ever, about privatising the ABC. What’s the scam?

The scam is they have no idea what they are talking about. Nor apparently do they want to know what they are talking about. The latest set of ABC financial statements show an enterprise which costs $1bn to fund each year and ABC itself recorded income of just $65m last year. 

In the event of a sale therefore, the buyer would have to come up with a cool $900 odd million to fund the ABC. A privatised ABC would then burst into the advertising market and crush the commercial networks which are already financially stressed. It would cost thousands of jobs and send the networks bust. They can ill afford to lose $100m in ad revenue to the ABC, let alone $900m. 

The only positive outcome would be that Sky News’ own tiny ad revenue would also be walloped.

June 12, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

The appalling mistreatment of Australian citizen, Julian Assange, – by USA, UK, and Australia


Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges joins Robert Scheer to discuss the WikiLeaks founder’s plight as he languishes in a British prison. SCHEER INTELLIGENCE: A ROBERT SCHEER PODCAST

The mistreatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the past decade has been defined as “psychological torture” by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. Yet, there is still no real end in sight to Assange’s promethean plight. Several months after a British judge blocked his extradition to the U.S.–citing that conditions in America’s inhumane prison system would be detrimental to his health–the WikiLeaks founder continues to be held in a maximum security prison in the U.K. The U.S. government, first under Donald Trump’s rule and now under Joe Biden’s, is appealing the extradition ruling. With a new decision in the case is due to be announced any day now, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and ScheerPost columnist Chris Hedges joins Robert Scheer on this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence” to discuss what Hedges has called Assange’s “martyrdom.”

Scheer and Hedges assert that Assange’s case is a clear threat to freedom of the press given that he acted in the capacity of a publisher in the same way the global media outlets that printed the content released by WikiLeaks did. Should the publishers of the Washington Post, New York Times and other media have been charged with a crime for publishing the content? Hedges and Scheer, who have both been staunch supporters  of the WikiLeaks founder, conclude that there can only be one reason for all recent Republican and Democratic administrations to doggedly persecute Assange: he is a major threat to the establishment’s most sinister interests.

“Your job [as a publisher] is not to be partisan,” says Hedges. “Your job is to expose the machinations of power, the crimes of power, the lies of power–whoever’s in power. And that’s precisely what Julian did. when he was going after Bush with the Iraq War Logs, the Democrats loved him. But as soon as his journalistic integrity led him to also expose the inner workings of the Democratic Party establishment, they turned on him as vociferously as the Republicans.

“I’ve been stunned at what an egregious assault [Assange’s persecution] is on press freedom and how the institutions that purport to care about freedom of the press have been complicit in the persecution of Julian.”

As Assange is tortured before our eyes, Hedges decries the silence of organizations such as PEN, which “are tasked with holding up the kind of liberties and press freedoms that we care about.” The award-winning journalist argues that PEN and others have not only sold out to their liberal donor base, but have been “taken over” by Democratic establishment figures such as Suzanne Nossel, the current head of PEN America and former member of the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Scheer also highlights the plight of another person who has become collateral damage in America’s tyrannical mission against Assange.

“The real hero of this whole thing is Chelsea Manning,” says Scheer. “The U.S. government has been tormenting Chelsea Manning because they basically want to get her to say: ‘Julian Assange put me up to this; he’s the really bad guy.’ It’s a horrible story of government torture and manipulation that you have this rare, exemplary citizen, Chelsea Manning, who does the right thing and says our government, in our name, is committing war crimes–killing innocent children and journalists and everything–and then they want to now break her so she’ll go against Julian Assange.”

Listen to the full conversation between Hedges and Scheer as they examine in detail the U.K.’s role in the Assange trial, as well as discuss the very real dangers the results of the case could pose to journalists and journalism the world over.


RS: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests. And in this case, unquestionably; a very shrewd observer, Chris Hedges, longtime correspondent, bureau chief for the New York Times, and wrote for a lot of other publications.

But I want to get Chris on now with some urgency, because I’m really concerned about the fate of Julian Assange. I’ve turned 85; in my whole life I don’t think I’ve had, experienced a case of such splendid indifference to press freedom and the suffering of a brave journalist in this country, in the United States. He’s of course not from the U.S., which makes it even more appalling that he’s being held under terrible conditions in an English prison………………..

June 1, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison’s $billion missile spend, a gift to foreign war companies and their sponsor, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, (ASPI)

Foreign war lobby gets a $billion for missiles – media fawns 4 Apr 21,
Scott Morrison’s latest billion-dollar missile spend was deftly leaked to the media then talked up by ASPI whose sponsors have raked in $51 billion in Defence Department contracts while doling cash to the conflicted “think-tank”. Marcus Rubenstein investigates.

No sooner had Scott Morrison’s new cabinet been sworn in than it was back to business, feeding out distractions to the Canberra press gallery.

Nearly 14 hours before the prime minister announced to the nation that Australia was going to spend a billion dollars on building “our own missiles” Greg Sheridan from The Australian had the scoop—along with The Age/SMH, Nine Newspapers stablemate Australian Financial Review and the ABC. Along with the ranks of metropolitan mainstream media dailies who all fell in line behind the announcement.

And with military precision they all fired off their online reports at 10:30pm… or, to be more precise, 22:30 hrs.

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald both quoted ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) in their coverage as did The Conversation, along with others they listed potential weapons maker partners for this home grown missile mission.

Apart from the glaring fact that none of these companies are actually Australian, most were listed by ASPI in a report it published last year. Of the five potential partner companies being touted by mainstream media— Raytheon (USA), Lockheed Martin (USA), Kongsberg (Norway), Rafeal (Israel) and BAE Systems (UK)—all but one is a long-term financial backer of ASPI.

As is de rigueur there was no mention that ASPI’s enthusiasm for substantial new military expenditure was directed towards spending on weapons made by their sponsors.

A number of media reports included PR handout images from US missile maker Raytheon, which for years was a loyal ASPI sponsor and also the former employer of, recently demoted, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

The actual announcement was made by the prime minister, not at Parliament House, but at the South Australian facility of Raytheon.

Government access for weapons makers

Since ASPI’s foundation in 2001, when it was created to challenge the policy direction of Defence, it has become more and more commercialised.

This fact was highlighted by ASPI’s founding Executive Director Hugh White, who wrote on the 15th anniversary of its foundation, “The quality of defence policy slumped… [and] ASPI’s focus inevitably swung round to contributing to public debates not government policy-making.”

Under Hugh White’s leadership, ASPI preserved a great deal of independence and only took an average of $28,000 per year in commercial revenue.

In the last financial year, under the leadership of (former Howard Government adviser) Peter Jennings, ASPI raked in $6,953,000 in commercial revenue. Yet it maintains its façade of independence of outside influence.

ASPI sponsor, French-owned Naval Group was awarded the contract for Australia’s controversial $80 billion future submarine project. It has been in the headlines recently after an independent report released in March found the project was “dangerously off track”.

In 2016, when the contract was awarded Jennings, wrote a glowing opinion piece, about his sponsor, under the headline “Vive Australia’s choice of a French submarine”.

The release of the Future Submarines Report was very critical of the entire project and there were suggestions from highly credentialed defence strategists that Australia should walk away from the deal.

In response, ASPI wrote that not only should Naval Group keeps its contract but the Royal Australian Navy should commission un-maned Orca submarines whilst waiting decades for the French submarines order to be fulfilled.

And who makes the Orca? Another ASPI sponsor, Boeing Defense.

This comes after revelations in March that ASPI had been commissioned to write a report critical of the federal government’s awarding of cloud computing contracts to Australian company Canberra Data Centres (CDC).

As it transpires, ASPI had been commissioned to write the report by lobbying firm Australian Public Affairs (APA); the Commonwealth Lobbyists Register reveals APA represent CDC’s three main commercial rivals.

Last October, ASPI’s Peter Jennings told the ABC, “ASPI’s work as a think tank is genuinely independent” and suggestions it was controlled by sponsors were “frankly nonsense”.

The massive ASPI payoff

ASPI is not an independent think tank, it is in fact a Commonwealth Company which reports to the parliament through the Defence Ministry. In its latest annual report ASPI singled out the then Defence Minister for her “continuing close personal engagement and support”.

In her first speech as Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds boasted of her close friendship with ASPI’s Peter Jennings.

Clearly ASPI’s boss and his board, which is chaired by former Chief of the Army, Lt Gen (Ret’d) Kenneth Gillespie and includes former Liberal Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, has access to the highest levels of government and the Defence Department.

Since ASPI’s inception it has received sponsorship from 12 manufacturers of weapons and weapons systems. Over that period, they have been awarded 9,423 Defence Department contracts with a total value of $51.2 billion.

This does not include another 49 ASPI sponsors who do not manufacture weapons, yet Department of Finance data, reveals have benefitted from more than $30 billion in defence contracts since 2001.

ASPI’s most recent annual report revealed that in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, it hosted 142 separate events and meetings, many of them bringing together defence policy makers and defence suppliers.

At one such event in 2019, sponsored by Thales, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, then Defence Minister Linda Reynolds was keynote speaker. Presumably executives from these foreign weapons makers had some level of access to the minister.

Department of Finance figures later revealed that ministerial and department staff were charged $30,723 by ASPI in order to attend that speech.

April 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

News Corpse fervently promoting nuclear power to Australia

From THE AUSTRALIAN, 17 Feb 21,  ‘‘Think of the deaths that could have been avoided, since installing solar panels and wind turbines is a surprisingly dangerous exercise. The death toll from solar power per unit of energy supplied is more than five times as high as the death toll from nuclear, according to estimates from Cambridge House in Canada. By the same measure, nuclear power is 1000 times safer than coal and 400 times safer than natural gas. Yet still Albanese persists with the lame excuse that nuclear power is too dangerous to consider.”

Cambridge House doesn’t seem like a credible source for deaths in different power sources.

Cambridge House is a networking and “investment discovery” company that runs a mining and investment conference in North America

Maybe not the most reliable source of info, journalist at The Australian.

Some excellent scientists did, in fact, do meticulous studies, and documented illnesses,deaths, birth defects resulting from the Chernobyl disaster.  The Russian government happily collaborated with the West in a successful campaign to discredit those scientists.  Most notably Alexey V. Yablokov –

I wrote on the work of Wladimir Wertelecki, who documented birth defects in Belarus –  unfortunate title – but bear with it –  “A baby that has no head is a baby that has no head.”
From Sky News, 21 Feb 21,  “Broadcaster Michael McLaren says Australia has wasted “decades with silly moratoriums” on nuclear energy and that “we may well pay the price” for doing so.  “There is a growing sense of urgency now about which technology can provide the reliable baseload power Australia needs if coal is to go,” Mr McLaren said. “It is an issue of sovereignty and national security”.


February 21, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Australian government’s brazen duplicity concerning Julian Assange

What Assange and WikiLeaks said about Australia,

By Jessie Tu  February 4, 2021 He has been called “truth-telling hero”, “evil and perverted traitor”, “heroic, trickster, mythical – reviled”. Robert Manne called him the “most consequential Australian of the present time”. The new US President has called him a “high-tech terrorist”.

The protean narratives of Julian Assange, who will be 50 in July, have been brewing since 2010, when his website published “The Afghan War Diaries”, “Iraq War Logs” and “Collateral Murder”, a video showing the US military killing two Reuters employees in Iraq.

December marked 10 years since Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” in Britain, according to Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau in their introduction to A Secret Australia – a collection of 18 essays that survey the impact WikiLeaks has had on Australia’s media landscape and the consequences of our government’s attraction towards America’s intelligence and military empire.

The potpourri of authors and thinkers includes Julian Burnside, Antony Loewenstein, Scott Ludlam and Helen Razer, who critique “the powers opposed to openness and transparency” and examine the evidence, “not the likelihoods, the probabilities, the suspicions, and assumptions” around the “subversive, technology-based publishing house”.

WikiLeaks invented a “pioneering model of journalism” – one that embodied the “contemporary spirit of resistance to imperial power”, says Richard Tanter, from the school of political and social sciences at the University of Melbourne. It brought renewed debates on free speech, digital encryption and questions around the management and protection of whistleblowers who risk their lives to expose covert, deceitful actions by governments.

The documents exposed the “brazen duplicity” of the Australian government towards its citizens and presented “off-stage alliance management conversations”, Tanter writes. They invited the layperson into the green room of the performance that is politics and international diplomacy.
WikiLeaks unmasked reports that showed governments recommending media strategies to deceive the public, demonstrating their unethically utilitarian approach to international diplomacy and governance and “enlightened the public on the dark corners of wars”, writes journalist and author Antony Loewenstein.

Assange is still in a cell at London’s Belmarsh Prison, facing an appeal by the United States in its bid to extradite him to face charges for the 2010 publications. He is continuing to be “denied adequate medical care” and “denied emergency bail in light of the COVID-19″, says Lissa Johnson, a clinical psychologist and writer for New Matilda – one of the few Australian publications that have paid genuine attention to the WikiLeaks saga.

In Australia, there’s been a “striking absence of a solid debate on WikiLeaks in the mainstream public discourse”, according to Benedetta Brevini, a journalist and media activist who insists that our concerning “lack of a thorough and sustained debate” is incomprehensible. Loewenstein calls Australia’s lack of journalistic solidarity with Assange “deeply shameful”. He says we have an “anodyne media environment” – perhaps not unsurprising, considering our highly concentrated media market, one of the most severe in the world.

Most of the essays expostulate on the same things: Assange is a journalist, not a hacker. He’s won a Walkley Award (at least six mentions of this). We have an undeniable legal obligation to him. His persecution is a “gruesome legal experiment in criminalising journalism” – a long and tortured legal process that Ludlam declares “has degenerated into an unworkable shit-show”.

The standout essays come from Guy Rundle and Helen Razer – whose amusing voice cuts through the somewhat parched tenor of cold academic-speak that lightly threads through the other essays. Her addition is a breath of fresh air in the middle of a chain of same-same arguments.

The most useful essay is Rundle’s take on the historical basis for WikiLeaks. He surveys the swirling currents of Australian history that led to its founding, identifying WikiLeaks as a continuation of political activist Albert Langer’s resistance to capital.

“We need a whole new organisation of how recent Australian history is told,” Rundle concludes, seconding Lissa Johnson’s opinion that we demand citizens who “cut across the acquiescence and consent, remove the deadbolt on the torture chamber door, turn down the music and expose what is going on inside”. This collection of polemics, though at times repetitive, takes us closer to a future where these demands no longer seem beyond reality.

A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposes,  Eds., Felicity Ruby & Peter Cronau, Monash University Publishing, $29.95

February 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment