TUMBY BAY - In case you hadn’t noticed, the Murdoch press in Australia has embarked on an unexpected campaign urging action to combat climate change.
To most Australians this appeared to be outrageous hypocrisy given News Corp’s dreadful track record of climate change denial, disinformation and derision.
To fully understand this apparent 180 degree turnabout, one has to be aware of the base motivation behind the campaign. As always with Murdoch, it is profit.
More than 70% of Australians support action on climate change. Even in the conservative heartland of North Queensland approval of getting on with doing something hovers in the high sixties.
News Corp press is well aware of this change in public opinion and, as many of these people buy its newspapers and other media products, Murdoch decided it was time to redirect his media narrative to align with what had become the majority view.
And anyone who thinks there’s some philanthropic, humanitarian or scientific basis to this move would be sorely mistaken. More about this shortly.
So now the ideologues in Murdoch’s Australian empire have been given their orders.
These people, his employees, are manipulated actors who provide the fodder for whatever issue the old man wants to exploit from time to time, or whatever enemy he wants to vilify.
Reactionary conservative journalists are only of importance to Murdoch as tools.
They occupy the same niche in his organisation as did once the topless bimbos on page three of his newspapers.
Naked breasts sold newspapers. Today bias has a similar function.
Despite the instructions from on high, it seems that camp followers Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin, Alan Jones and some few others decided to continue their climate denialism.
All part of the plan, I suppose. They’ll be OK continuing the anti-science spice to keep the hard core Murdoch constituency on side.
And they all have safe jobs despite the apparent resistance to Murdoch’s wishes.
Or part of it is backpedalling. One buttock of the National Party rump is decidedly unhappy with Morrison’s belated attempt to align to Murdoch’s wishes.
Despite what many people think, in Murdoch World governments progressive or conservative or in between are expendable.
They are at liberty to be dumped if their declining popularity looks like removing them from office or if they make decisions that upset the great man’s commercial interests.
At best, Murdoch is a fair weather friend.
He has in the past supported Labor electorally (Whitlam in 1972, Hawke in 1983, Rudd in 2007) and recently is reported to have said that a few years of a Labor government wouldn’t be that bad.
Scott (Scotty from Marketing) Morrison understands this sort of expediency very well, which is why he’s suddenly scrambled to change his government’s course on climate change.
It is certain he will do this, but in the process he’s already caused great division in his governing coalition.
To Murdoch, right wing parties in opposition are of no use to his commercial interests.
But over that time, the Coalition handed the Murdochs $40 million in untied grants – free money - so taxpayers actually paid the Murdochs more than $30 million.
If the Labor Party wins the election due in the next few months, and if it tries to get Murdoch to pay his fair share like the rest of us do, his media attack dogs will quickly be set upon a hapless Anthony Albanese.
Murdoch knows that countries not responding effectively to climate change are going to be whacked commercially by the rest of the world. Australia at the moment is one such country.
In the cold-blooded world of profit above everything, Murdoch has no intention of foregoing precious dollars.
Translation into Liberalese: ‘Scotty, get off your bum and do what it takes to win the next election and that means going a bit green on climate change.’
Scotty got the message.
And, as Jack Waterford, writes in Pearls & Irritations this morning, "After all the grandstanding, the National Party will make a deal on climate change policy. They are for sale."