UPDATED: News from the front desk Issue 500: The federal government is like the shy kid who wants to join the A list. It’s poking around the edges. Sticking a toe in here, a bit of nosey peek there.

It can see the crowd closing tight and paradoxically growing bigger. More and more of the coolest boys and gals sauntering over to take a look and gain easy entrée to the pack.

Look, there’s Mike Cannon-Brookes, wearing that magic A emblem on his cap, backwards. Over on the other side of the room is BHP making gurgling fatherly noises as it tucks an arm around Origin Energy. They’ve both just cocked a snook at the Queensland Resources Council because this previously powerful bully has failed to read the tea leaves and is denigrating The Greens, ahead of the Queensland state election, as their popularity soars. Policy and politics mixed up, says Origin.

More and more of the rich and beautiful people from movies, theatre, the arts world and even the sons – or son –  of fading media moguls like Rupert Murdoch are joining this crowd. One cool little publication, InDaily from Adelaide, has recently opened up in Queensland just ahead of the state election and declared it stood for “the voice of Qld, not Murdoch.”

They’ve got a point. That recent doco on Murdoch on the tele was eye opening and also encouraging.

This is the man who, pretty much, made nations go to war. He foisted upon an unsuspecting public an addiction as powerful as gambling with a litany of stories based on salacious gossip and illegal spying on people – famous, or not, and even murdered children – to entertain and gain. Decency, lines in the sand: over the cliff they go.

Murdoch’s megalomania is veiled behind a cultivated fake transparency. He tells an obsequious Paul Kelly in one clip that climate change had always happened. Why worry? Make money.

So what if a few feet of water creep up to beachside houses and the Pacific Oceans people have to drown, not wave.

No mention of our ability to slow climate change. Or reverse the toxic pollution of the earth.

Closer to the bone and based on a media mogul was the MotherFatherSon series, panned by critics, but delving closer into the psychological mind f..ck that some parents perpetrate on their mostly male heirs to ensure they grow up wanting dominion over the plants and animals, and to hell with the cost.

Yes, the world is eternally rife with corruption and the battle between good and bad, light and dark, but for Murdoch the weight of climate denial and an advancing new Dark Ages of fakery and ignorance can be placed in huge part at his feet. Because this is a man who understands the power and the energy of the written and spoken word to move mountains.

We need to learn from him and flip the impact. And here’s the optimism: the power of words can also come from their disappearance, especially from the political lexicon. Such as “coal”.

Can anyone imagine the PM Scott Morrison cradling a lump of coal now?

In a few short years that image has become a joke as painfully seared into our political memories as the people at Cobargo turning away from a handshake with the PM, or the PM in his banana lounge in Hawaii a few weeks before, while Australia burned.

The impossibility that these images might recur, the obliteration of coal as a thing, and maybe even this week’s federal budget – in parts – means there is a glimmer of conversion under way. Morrison is nothing if not canny. He’s also, we reckon, profoundly lacking in ideology. It’s whatever gets him through the night. And the next day in Parliament. And the one after that.

He’s gazing over to the cool kids on the block now… careful to not let his old mates from the dark days see him, yet.

He’s told Josh Frydenberg to ease out the purse strings to favour some clean energy, some climate modelling, some energy efficiency and even some good recycling initiatives (never mind the money was mostly there already; but who’s quibbling?).

He’s coyly stayed well clear of anything to do with housing and the mere mention of pink batts even though they were actually successful in insulating homes (and yes Mr Rudd we know your GFC program was much maligned and many people say Labor has all the good ideas; the Libs merely plunder them.) And maybe the PM is sort of indicating in a sort of bob-each-way kind of way that maybe the planet burning up is not a good thing. That maybe we do need to act now, not in a 100 years, considering we’re already feeling the damage.

We can only hope.

But thing is we don’t have to hope. Actually. The old cabal of bullies is now cowering behind the shelter sheds, still smoking, even if it’s only old cigarette butts they found on the ground. And if they’re swaggering, it’s from the influence of whatever they’re drinking out of the brown paper bags.

The cool, smart, rich people have joined the ordinary people who’ve been agitating in grass roots movements for decades, and they all getting on with the job of saving the planet.

Global climate figurehead Christiana Figueres said recently we have 10 years to do it. And the time is now.

We didn’t have 10 years 10 years ago, she says. We didn’t have it 20 years ago. Because then we did not have the big capital shifts moving our way, we didn’t have the brilliant technology we have now. And we especially didn’t have the unbelievable promises of AI that we can harness to our own ends. Well maybe it’s a collaboration that we need with AI since it is well capable of harnessing us; check out Stephen Dark‘s fantastic article this week on the magic and the terror of AI.

UPDATE 11 AM 11 October 2020: Interesting to note on Friday that former PM Kevin Rudd has launched a petition for a royal commission into Rupert Murdoch and his unmitigated bias against Labor and climate action. Good to see, Mr Rudd. And also to note by Sunday that the site to sign the petition is crashing due to so many people wanting to join the action!

Check it out here and sign, because if there is one major reason action on climate change has been delayed for so long it’s the Murdoch Mafia.

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