“It has been a week of catastrophe in Australia,” writes Laura Tingle this morning in a column blaming the Morrison government for the fires caused by arsonists (incited by media catastrophe-mongers) and debris hoarding in national parks. No, it hasn’t. More on that in a moment. Tingle wants the Prime Minister to Do Something now to cool the earth. Not just Australia or some portion of it – that cannot be done – but the entire planet. She believes the government could do this if only it would stop the “culture war” against wise, impartial greens and find the money. “We don’t need gotcha moments,” she writes, as she gotchas the LNP.
First of all: it has not been a week of catastrophe. Not even close. At Pozieres, 6741 Australians died. At Fromelles in 1916, 2000 Australians were killed on one day. In the summer of 1895-96, a heat wave in south-eastern Australia killed 437. A country-wide heat wave in 1911-12 killed 143. The Victorian heat wave of 1938-39 killed 438. Tingle made her mark as a stony economics journalist with a cultivated disdain for hokum (except from the mouths of Labor treasurers). She should be embarrassed to append her name to hysteria of this kind. Her stablemate Michelle Grattan is no better, of course. “It’s no time to play politics,” Grattan insists – before laying into Michael McCormack for criticising urban greens. You’re not fooling anyone, ladies.