By Michael Dowling


The world has known about climate change and its anthropogenic causes from burning fossil fuels for many decades. Scientists raised the alarms and the world reacted. the UN held climate summits in Rio de Janeiro and Kyoto which delivered the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (adopted 1997, coming into force 2005).


So…Why has climate change been such a vexed and contested issue in Australia?


Rupert Murdoch


Around 70% of Australia’s media are controlled by just one foreign owner, Australian-turned-American billionaire, Rupert Murdoch. He is well recognised as a major force in climate denialism. Murdoch’s anti science, pro-hoax agenda has been amplified and repeated by other complicit media, conservative politicians and right wing think tanks like the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs (founded by Sir Keith Murdoch, Rupert’s father).


Murdoch has employed a deliberate strategy to muddy the waters on climate science and to play to people’s fears and their ignorance of science with a vociferous and relentless anti science campaign over many years.


In recent times, former Murdoch employees like Emily Townsend, and former prime ministers, including Rudd and Turnbull, have identified Rupert Murdoch as the significant impediment to democracy and action on climate in Australia.

Rupert Murdoch and sons

Rupert Murdoch flanked by sons Lachlan (left) and James. [CREDIT:DOUG PETERS]


Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, has accused his family’s global media empire of promoting climate denialism in a stunning attack on News Corporation’s climate coverage.


In his article “The Murdoch Cancer on Democracy is Metastasising”, Ryan Wilson points out how Murdoch media corporations (often referred to as the Murdochracy) set about deliberately lying to their audience: “These are not small lies, they are the kind of lies that, over time, can fundamentally skew a person’s worldview.”


Ryan Wilson also wrote, “Scandals that previously would have sunk a PM can now be treated with contempt, because Morrison knows that Murdoch will mop up his mess.”


As Paul Barry from ABC’s MediaWatch put it: “No amount of expert opinion is enough to convince the know-it-alls on Sky and 2GB and in the News Corp papers who argue tirelessly that climate change isn’t happening, or isn’t to blame, and/or this summer’s fires are nothing new.”


As climate activists we not only have to fight for action on climate and the adoption of sound climate change policy, we are having to battle against the pernicious Murdochracy. But we cannot give up. The stakes are too high.


Sources: Sourcewatch; Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 15, 2020.; Medium May 11, 2020; SBS News, Jan 15, 2020; ABC Mediawatch Jan 3, 2020; Wikipedia: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.