The most surprising part of News Corporation’s greenwashing of the Liberal Party is not so much that it’s occurring right now, but the fact that it’s happening so quickly. The Liberal Party – working hand in glove with the Business Council of Australia, and their erstwhile friends at News Corporation – has resisted all action on climate change ever since they returned to government in 2013: they repealed the carbon price scheme, abolished the Climate Commission, reduced funding programs for renewable energy, used funding allocated for renewable energy programs… for fossil fuel programs. And claimed that electric cars were the death of the weekend.
Can eight years of climate change denialism – or 25 years if we include the Howard years that commenced in 1996 – be overturned within a few months before the next election? Obviously, the Liberal National Coalition believes all of this is possible and the public will believe that the party that brought coal into the chambers of Parliament is the new champion of climate change action, and is the best friend of the environment. It’s a big ask, but let’s see if there’s enough collective amnesia within the electorate to accept the biggest greenwash and about-face in Australian history.
NSW has ended its lockdowns and is promoting itself as the Australian leader out of the pandemic and providing direction to all the other states and territories around the nation for how to ‘live with COVID’. This is a surprise to the people of Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory, who have living without lockdowns, curfews and restrictions for most of the past 15 months, and have only had a handful of COVID cases during that time, compared to the 69,552 cases in NSW.
And why were so many politicians of all persuasions so adamant about going to a pub to celebrate the first day of the lifting of restrictions? It’s like Australia is a nation of alcoholics: NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and senior ministers in the front bar of a pub (sans women); Anthony Albanese sucking on a schooner at another bar; Dave Sharma toasting with a middie – and with another bloke. It looks like it’s just a pathetic blokes’ world until you realise the Australian Hotels Association donates substantial amounts of money to the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. And they’ve been actively promoting the end of lockdowns.
And this is all neatly dovetailing into the divisive message the federal government wants to promote in the lead up to the next election: the Liberal Party is the party of freedoms, the breaker of lockdowns, the opener of the economy. The fun guys. Whereas Labor is the dull party of further restrictions, lockdowns at the sneeze of half a COVID nostril, and the denier of business and the economy.
Labor has to keep focusing on the eight years of poor government and incompetence provided by the Liberal–National Coalition while, of course, the Coalition wants us all to forget about this and focus on freedoms. Does Labor have the skill to prosecute the case for change or will collective amnesia win out again?