DOUBTLESS enlivened by the success of a multi-million dollar, emission-spewing mission to save some non-rare trees in a national park somewhere – which may or may not have been endangered by fire anyway – NSW environment minister Matt Kean has now hit out at “climate change sceptics” in his own Liberal Party. The new “Biggles” of Australian politics, Kean boasted to Fairfax journalist Peter Hannam this week that he ordered a fleet of air-tankers, fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter (from which a crack team of firemen were offloaded) to protect a stand of mystical Wollemi trees at an unspecified date during the current bushfires. While seventeen people have died in NSW during the crisis, not a single Wollemi has been lost on Kean’s watch. A “military-style operation,” he called it. Gareth Evans’ infamous RAAF surveillance flights over Tasmania’s proposed Franklin Dam site in the early days of the Hawke government look modest in comparison.
Newly endorsed by Richard Di Natale, Kean is angry with his Canberra colleagues. “We shouldn’t need a royal commission to convince Craig Kelly and the likes of him in the federal coalition partyroom to believe climate change is real,” he told ABC radio yesterday. He also wants all debate about ‘climate change’ stopped so that Australia can begin selling clean, non-existent energy sources overseas. “The reality is that the majority of the world market we currently ship our coal to are starting to decarbonise and they’re looking for newer, cheaper products to power their economies.” (Is there any oil in those Wollemis?). Maybe Kean has been speaking to Lenore Taylor. She argues today the states should consider circumventing the Morrison government to reduce the country’s carbon dioxide output by themselves. This, she implies, will end bushfires. All the states have to do is shut down their mines and power stations. All of them. Good luck with that.