Episode 234 – Bush Fires and Media Bias
In this episode: Bushfires, Media bias, Scomo or Smoko, Fireworks displays, Barnaby Joyce, Media Bias, the NZ volcano and Palace-chook.
The theme of this episode and this podcast for 2020.
Be aware of hidden agendas. Question your sources of information. A lot of people and a lot of media don’t care about the truth. They will lie and deceive to promote their own agenda. When reading something ask yourself “Who is the writer? Who is paying this person? Does this person have an incentive to skew the argument in a certain direction?”
This bushfire crisis is a useful case study for how different media will tell a different story depending on their agendas. Be aware of it, look for it, treat it as a game but then treat it as something very dangerous.
Treat everyone like a used car salesman until they earn your trust. If statistics are used then there should be references to the sources. If not, be suspicious. If they are quoted, then check them out and see if the sources say what the author says they say.
Once you have the facts, then comes the hard part of deciding right from wrong. As a society, we have lost the ability to rationally dissect and argue ethical and moral questions. Here at IFVG we are trying to restore the lost art of civilised debate.
Here is how it usually works. If you are for or against a proposition you must be able to state a general rule that covers the situation. EG banning fireworks displays during bushfires or killing Iranian generals by drone strikes or politicians going on holidays during emergencies. The general rule must be capable of operating generally. For example, the Iranians should be able to kill a US general in the same circumstances. The less general the rule and the more exemptions then the less credible the rule is because it no longer relies on general principles.
As I said … this bushfire crisis is a useful case study for how different media will tell a different story depending on their agendas.
The Fire Crisis
We have bushfires all the time. This one is no different or if it is, no one could have predicted it would happen or if they could, no one could predict when it would happen. Morrison took a holiday and everyone needs a holiday. He can’t be expected to hold a hose. Other people are employed to do these things. Once it got really bad, he came back and started sorting things out. The failed hand-shakes were clumsy but he was trying to console and help but these people who were tired and upset and he didn’t take it personally. He has provided lots of extra money and got the defence force involved and will be holding an inquiry as to what happened and how to do better in future. He had to produce a government ad to explain what is being done so as to calm Australians and also to overcome the negative unhelpful left-wing media who are misleading quiet Australians. If the latte sipping greenies had allowed cold fires for hazard reduction the fires would not have been so bad. Ultimately fighting fires (and it’s funding) is a state government issue and not in the federal government’s wheelhouse. Also, these days there are a lot of crazy arsonists which is adding to the problem. Yes, the climate is changing but ultimately Australia produces a very small amount of total greenhouse gas (compared to India and China) and even if we reduced our emissions to zero, it would not affect climate change and would not have prevented this fire. It is un-Australian to blame Scomo for something he can’t control. It is un-Australian to criticise the efforts of our brave fire fighters.
How do I know all of this? Unfortunately I read The fucking Australian and The fucking Courier Mail.
This fire is extremely bad. It could have been predicted, it was, and the government was told to prepare for a catastrophe but did nothing. It was suggested that exhausted fire fighters who had spent weeks fighting fires should be financially compensated. Scomo said no and they enjoy being out there. On December 12 Scomo declared it was a national disaster but 3 days later he went on a holiday to Hawaii. The country was now being led by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who, just weeks earlier, had dismissed concerns about the links between the fires and climate change as “the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies”, after helpfully noting that “we’ve had fires in Australia since time began”. After two firefighters died Scomo apologised for taking a holiday but still took 2 days to return. He went to the funeral and said it was “tremendous”. He visited fire affected areas purportedly to console and help but more obviously to get self-promoting photo opportunities. He was so anxious to be seen to be connecting with real Australians that in two cringeworthy scenes he forced a pregnant woman and an exhausted fire-fighter to shake his hand after they made it clear they didn’t want to. He subsequently ordered the army reserve to get involved but incredibly, RFS commissioner Fitzsimmons said the first he knew about the new deployment was when he read it in the media. It was “disappointing”, he said, that the prime minister didn’t inform him of the impending arrival of 3000 army reservists, and the timing of the announcement hampered the RFS response effort on a catastrophic day. To deflect attention from himself he tried to spin a story that the NSW government had refused defence force assistance. He authorised a cheesy government television ad to paint a picture that he was in control and spending lots of money and doing lots of coordinating when in reality, the opposite is true. He is now deciding to hold meetings and ask for international help but these are things that should have been done at the start of the fire season, not in the middle. He refuses to acknowledge that his government policies on fossil fuels make these kinds of events more likely in future. He paints a false picture of Australia as a model citizen when it comes to climate reduction and refuses to acknowledge the developing nature of countries such as China and India. We have moved to services and they do our manufacturing.
These extreme fires are the result of climate change. Because the Morrison government has pinned its flag to the mast of the coal industry it won’t acknowledge that. Because the Morrison government has committed to a budget surplus it won’t spend the extra money that is needed.
We’re fucked until we get rid of these clowns.
Where does the truth lie?
The CSIRO warned about this in 2009
From the CSIRO report.
An assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on fire regimes in Australia, and the consequences of these changed fire regimes for Australia’s biodiversity was commissioned by the Australian Government to help increase our understanding of the complex interactions between climate change, fire regimes and biodiversity for future fire management.
- Modeled climate projections show that much of southern Australia may become warmer and drier. This modeling suggests that, by 2020, extreme fire danger days in south-eastern Australia may occur 5 to 65 per cent more often than at present.
- For example, modeling of climate change impacts on the fire regimes of Australian Capital Territory (ACT) landscapes predicts that a 2°C increase in mean annual temperature would increase fire intensity by 25%, increase the area burnt, and halve the mean interval between fires in the ACT.
- Climate change is expected to have greater effects on fire regimes in regions where fire weather factors like temperature and wind strength determine fire occurrence and fire intensity. These are regions such as the temperate forests of the south-east and south-west of Australia. Climate change is expected to have less effect on fire regimes in places where fuel levels or ignition sources determine fire occurrence and intensity, such as northern tropical savannas.
- Managing fire regimes to reduce risk to property, people and biodiversity under climate change will be increasingly challenging.
Here is important Audio from the ABC as Josh Szeps interviewied Former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner, Greg Mullins.
Australia could have been better prepared for the current bushfire crisis facing multiple states if the federal government had heeded warnings from emergency leaders as early as April, former Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins says.
Speaking on the ABC’s Radio National program on Thursday morning, Mr Mullins said he wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April and again “immediately after” the May election, warning him of the coming bushfire season and requesting an urgent meeting to discuss funding for firefighting and action to address climate change.
‘I deeply regret any offence’: Morrison cuts short his holiday amid bushfire crisis
Was it acceptable for the PM to go on a holiday?
“I don’t hold a hose … and I don’t sit in a control room. The brave people who do that are doing that job,” Mr Morrison told Sydney’s 2GB radio. “But I know that Australians would want me back at this time.”
The Fist: Morrison hogged the cameras when the fires started so he took ownership of the fire crisis so he must return from holidays.
Plus, in 2010, Glen Turner asked the panel if Christine Nixon’s (Victorian Police Chief) absence, while bushfire evacuations were underway, was acceptable. Scott Morrison responded by saying that she’d “clearly made a bad judgment call”.
Bernard Keane in Crikey said it was OK for Morrison to take a holiday.
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott heads off on European holiday as bushfire crisis continues
A week after the furore over Scott Morrison’s Hawaiian holiday, NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott is leaving the country for a trip to the UK and France.
Mr Elliott’s office said the Minister would not cancel his trip to Europe, despite the ongoing bushfire crisis.
His office would not disclose how long he would be out of the country, but said his responsibilities would be given to NSW Prisons Minister Anthony Roberts in the interim.
“Bushfire-affected communities and firefighters are always at the front of my mind during this difficult time in NSW,” Mr Elliott said.
“I will continue to receive two briefings each day from the RFS [Rural Fire Service] Commissioner.
But then …
The criticism of Mr Elliott’s absence comes on the back of a controversial year for the minister, in which he said he would happily allow his own children to be strip searched and allegedly pulled over a P-plater and told the youth that he “worked for the cops”. Mr Elliott was cleared of any misconduct relating to the incident.
Financial Payments for firefighting volunteers
When Albanese suggested compensation for volunteers, Morrison was dismissive at first but later announced payments of up to $6000.
NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has rejected calls for his members to be compensated for their work in the ongoing bushfire crisis, saying it would undermine the spirit of volunteerism underpinning the RFS.
“Don’t do the volunteers a disservice by suggesting that you’re going to pay them, because then they’re no longer volunteers and that’s absolutely the sentiment that I’m getting loud and clear everywhere I go,” Mr Fitzsimmons said in response to calls from Labor and an organisation representing thousands of NSW volunteer firefighters.
Mick Holton, the president of the Volunteer Fire Firefighters Association, yesterday joined Mr Albanese’s calls for payments to firefighters who missed work, saying many had been forced to pay for fuel and protective masks out of their own pockets or through crowdfunding.
Fireworks during a bushfire crisis
Most people, just don’t care. Should they?
Clearly if there is a fire risk then it should not go ahead. But, let’s assume that no fire would actually be caused by the fireworks so we are not talking about a fire risk but rather the ethics of the celebration.
If you say fireworks should be stopped what general rule could you draft up?
The Fist was at Coolangatta for a fireworks display.
What about a water fountain display during a fire crisis? What about a water fountain display during a flood crisis?
Morrison grabs a pregnant lady’s hand.
She complains about funding and he walks away.
A Minder man-handles her.
Scomo scampers off and the locals give him an earful.
Blame the green for lack of hazard reduction burning
From The Guardian
A former NSW fire and rescue commissioner, Greg Mullins, has written that the hotter and drier conditions, and the higher fire danger ratings, were preventing agencies from carrying out prescribed burning.
But as well as climate change narrowing the window to carry out prescribed burning, Mullins said some fires have become so intense they have burned through areas that had been subject to hazard reduction.
Mullins has been fighting fires in NSW for months. Speaking to the ABC on Friday, he said he witnessed a fire in Grafton in an area that had burned only two weeks previously, but “the burnt leaves were burning again”.
He said: “There has been lots of hazard reductions done over the years – more by national parks than previous years – but the fires have burned through those hazard reduction areas.”
Mullins dismissed suggestions that the bushfires were down to “greenies” preventing hazard reduction activities.“This is the blame game. We’ll blame arsonists, we’ll blame greenies,” he said.
“When will the penny drop with this government?”
It is a state government issue
Morrison says fire fighting and it’s funding are state government issues.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not inform him he was deploying 3000 army reservists to help with the bushfire crisis and the timing of the announcement hampered the response effort on a catastrophic day.
An ad will fix things
Scotty from Marketing decided that a blatantly self-promoting ad would be a good idea. And that the Facebook link should include a prominent “Donation” link which actually linked to the Liberal Party not to fire services.
The Shovel suggested a second ad to apologise for the first.
The Government response is world-leading
Hmmm, sounds familiar
A Murdoch Boycott?
The Murdoch press runs the line that we have always had fires and nothing special is happening but if it is then blame the Greens. Scomo had a hiccup but is doing a good job now and could not have stopped the fires and climate change is not to blame but if it is then Australia is too small to do anything about it. Plus it is Un-Australian to bag the PM with such hateful rhetoric.
The reasons are clear. After the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 in which 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in overcrowding, the Murdoch-owned newspaper printed pages of false claims that not only blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster, but accused them of urinating on police officers and other fans, beating up officers attempting CPR, and pickpocketing the dead. These reports have since all been proven as fabrication.
Fire ravaged towns should do the same to the Murdoch stable.
What would Labor have done?
At the moment, Australia doesn’t have a government-owned fleet of water bombing aircraft – making us reliant on borrowing from private companies domestically and from overseas.
The bushfire season in Australia is lengthening and already overlapping with the northern hemisphere, increasing the risk that we won’t be able to access the aircraft we need at times of peril.
At the same time, the Federal Government’s contribution to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre has plummeted from 50 per cent of funding to just 23 per cent, reducing our overall firefighting capability.
The Bureau of Meteorology has identified this summer as Australia’s hottest on record, which included devastating bushfires in Victoria and Tasmania. Now is the time to invest in giving our firefighters the resources they need to keep us all safe.
Labor’s national firefighting package will deliver:
$80 million to establish the National Aerial Bushfire Fighting Fleet of aircraft
This fleet will provide standing aerial firefighting capacity that can be used on demand in emergencies.
It will include retro-fitted Black Hawk helicopters as they are phased out from active use by the Australian Army and Erickson S-64 Air-crane helicopters (or ‘Elvis’ as they are commonly known) which has a 2,650 gallon tank capable of snorkelling or scooping fresh or salt water.
It’s expected that the national fleet will include a standing capability of up to six Large or Very Large Air Tankers, and up to 12 heavy rotary wing helicopters.
Bushfire crisis: too many people are feeding outrage and ignoring facts
Waz posted a link from Thought Hub
He described it as “A rare, rational and balanced news story about the bushfires”
It purports to state facts but the tone is pro Morrison. It has been shared 17,800 times!!!!
This is a case where the facts may be correct but you need to put them in context.
First. Who the fuck is the Thought Hub?
From their about page.
The Thought Hub features Australian political and social commentary.
The Thought Hub values classic liberalism, individualism and the free market. You can also follow The Thought Hub on facebook for regular updates.
If we google who is thoughthub we get to a reddit page which says:
It’s written by Dale Hughes a member of Vic Liberals.
Matt Burke on Twitter did the hard yards here:
Let’s look at some facts surrounding this crisis and try to cut through the hysteria being shared on social media.
FACT ONE – The Federal Government has been responding since November 8.
The federal defence department has been offering support and reinforcements since November 8. Every request from state governments has been promptly granted. Today, the ADF helped evacuate residents and visitors from Mallacoota. As David Crowe accurately reported in today’s Age: They have been refuelling aerial tankers, providing vehicles and drivers for search and rescue operations, serving meals to firefighters and providing accommodation for volunteers.
You can find further details here: https://news.defence.gov.au/national/defence-boosts-bushfire-support
FACT TWO – Emergency management is a state government responsibility.
While the federal government has been clear that all support it can provide will be granted, fire management is and remains a state responsibility.
Morrison was criticised on video for not funding the rural fire service enough, but this is ultimately not his responsibility.
You can find further details here via the CFA: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/who-does-what
FACT SIX: Australian governments, state or federal, Labor or Liberal, are not directly responsible for the fires.
Blaming the federal government directly for the fires, as rhetorically convenient as it might be, does not stand up to scrutiny or rationality. Australia emits 1.3% of global emissions. However, Australia is the biggest exporter of coal. As The Conversation reported earlier this year, if this was factored in, Australia’s emissions climb to above 4%.
You can find that report here: https://theconversation.com/how-to-answer-the-argument-that-australias-emissions-are-too-small-to-make-a-difference-118825
Australia is the highest emitter of carbon per capita in the world. Still, it does not follow that a country with low carbon emissions can directly, on its own, be responsible for the changing climate that is exacerbating the fires.
Barnaby is sick of the government
“Now you don’t have to convince me the climate is not changing, it is changing,” he says.
“My problem has always been whether you believe new taxes are going to change it back.
“I just don’t want the government any more in my life, I am sick of the government being in my life.”
With the camera pointing to the sky, the former deputy prime minister urges Australians to respect God.
“There’s a higher authority that’s beyond our comprehension – right up there in the sky. And unless we understand that that’s got to be respected, then we’re just fools. We’re going to get nailed.”
Social media users commenting on the post were quick to point out that Joyce was a member of the government and that he was free to resign if he wanted it out of his life.
Meanwhile the government has refused a FOI request regarding his text submissions to Scomo as special drought envoy.
Plans for 2020
In the words of Pablo Casals “The situation is hopeless. We must take the next step”
Where is the Australian version of Bernie, Warren or AOC?
Michael Moore etc aren’t starting third parties, they are reforming the Democratic Party.
How to find the truth? How to overcome the Murdoch press? Podcasts blogs and rss readers. Share recommendations.
Look out ABC. Murdoch and Morrison are out to get you. Boris Johnson is aiming at the BBC.
The Fist will be joining the Labor party.
The Bullshit Filter
Well May We Say
John Menadue Blog
The Rumble with Michael Moore
How was Uncle Tony?
Christmas is a time for discussions and often with people you don’t see very often.
If I start a conversation and the person:
Likes Morrison, talks down climate change, hates Greta Thunberg, decries the liberal media (especially the ABC), thinks Trump is doing OK because the stock market is up then my first question is “Do you read The Australian?”
Checkout a documentary “The Brainwashing of my Dad”
And an article about how Fox News scammed Americans
Thanks everyone who has sent in links and articles and feedback.
Ross, Bronwyn, Wayne
Still getting through my inbox
From Gavin – On the bus in Sydney and driver is loudly playing 103.2, a xtian station. Emailed a complaint to company and told driver he shouldn’t be playing that sort of station on a public bus. Is this our future following the RD bill? (Will let you know the response to the email.)—
Cam Reilly has written a book.
Many of the world’s leading organisations (business, political, religious, military, media and law enforcement) are being run by senior management who probably rank highly on the psychopath test.
Psychopaths aren’t all serial killers. Many of them wear a suit or uniform and work in an office. Their inherent ability to lie, cheat and steal make them the perfect manager. They have the perfect combination of heartlessness and ambition. We’ve all worked with or for one of them. Everyone has a story.
And yet…. we don’t talk about it out in the open. The media doesn’t seem to have connected the existence of psychopaths and a possible reason why the leaders of our economies act erratically and with so little empathy.
This book is the first systematic attempt to derive a model that explains how and why psychopaths are allowed to occupy positions of power in society.
In New Zealand, everyone’s covered by public indemnity insurance.
From ABC News
That means both residents and visitors can apply for compensation if they suffer accidents while at work, on a holiday, or even in a major tragedy such as a terrorist incident or natural disaster.
Legally, this means anyone who suffers an injury on New Zealand soil does not have to take someone through the courts to prove they were at fault in order to obtain monetary compensation.
All they need to do is submit their claim to the country’s public indemnity insurance provider, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), to receive compensation for their injuries — be they mental or physical.
While this scheme has an equal share of detractors and champions, some have suggested that removing the need to prove fault may end up exposing people to greater levels of risk.
At the heart of any public insurance scheme is the management of risk in a given community.
This ranges from the small scale to the large, from councils managing playgrounds to arena operators staging concerts and major sporting events.
In a country such as Australia, people can sue an individual or group for damages if they have suffered a direct injury as a result of their actions, as long as they can prove the damaging party had a duty of care, breached that duty of care and the breach caused them harm.
In New Zealand, this is flipped on its head, as everyone has the ability to ask for damages from the ACC, regardless of whether anyone is at fault for their injury.
To understand this, take a case brought before the NSW Supreme Court last month.
Former rural firefighter Simon Andrews is seeking millions of dollars in compensation from the NSW Rural Fire Service for worked-induced post-traumatic stress disorder.
If this was to be repeated in New Zealand, the plaintiff would be able to apply for compensation funds from the ACC for mental or physical injuries resulting from the fire service at various points throughout his life.
For advocates of this method, a no-fault approach emphasises someone’s continuity of care, thereby improving the holistic health and wellbeing of a given society.
“Typically when somebody is suing, what happens is they get paid a sum of money to reflect their losses and then they’re sent on their way,” he said.
Bill Madden, a special counsel at Australian legal firm Carroll & O’Dea, says an inability to be sued for damages “disincentivises” people from adequately assessing risk.
“They do not face the financial disincentive of compulsory insurance with higher premiums for dangerous activities,” Mr Madden said.
Bu Dr Connell’s said there was “little evidence” that showed the fear of being sued was a potent deterrent to being negligent in the first place.
“We’re talking about carelessness, omission — people forgetting things or overlooking things,” Dr Connell said.
“It’s actually quite difficult to incentivise people not to do things when they’re not consciously thinking about it.”
He said risk deterrence was in the hands of WorkSafe New Zealand, which had the power to investigate and prosecute breaches of health and safety regulation.
WorkSafe has already announced an investigation into the Whakaari/White Island disaster.
“We’ve taken that deterrent effect that used to be associated with [private legal claims] and shifted it over to a different agency,” Dr Connell said.
It’s official. Play the clip. Thanks Wayne.