With the Coalition’s decade of denialism finally coming home to roost by way of the catastrophic fires mostly in New South Wales and Victoria, they are attempting to lay blame elsewhere. Apart from Barnaby Joyce’s spectacularly silly brain farts where he blamed the magnetic field of the sun1, and then his god for climate change2, he stated that the Greens were to blame for the bushfires because they prevented hazard reduction burns. This lie was duly reported in the lead outlet for climate change denial in Australia, Murdoch’s egregious drivel sheet, The Australian3. Of course, all the halfwits out in the general populace who read Murdoch’s rubbish, watch Sky News, or listen to 2GB, were quickly on the bandwagon, taking Joyce’s equine ordure as gospel, as the gullible invariably do. However, the Joyce lie was checked by the Guardian. As the Guardian said “this claim…is about the policies of a party [the Greens] that has never been in government” federally or in any state. Joyce put his claim simply, which is unsurprising, as he is very simple: “It’s not burning because they burnt off, it’s burning because they didn’t burn off.” Professor Ross Bradstock is the director of the centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong, and has been studying bushfires for 40 years. He said “These are very tired and very old conspiracy theories that get a run after most major fires. They’ve been extensively dealt with in many inquiries.” He also said that Joyce’s claims are familiar, but “without foundation” and “it’s simply conspiracy stuff. It’s an obvious attempt to deflect the conversation away from climate change”. Former New South Wales fire and rescue commissioner, Greg Mullins, stated that the hotter and drier conditions and the higher fire danger ratings were preventing agencies from carrying out prescribed burning, and added “blaming ‘greenies’ for stopping these important measures is a familiar, populist, but basically untrue claim4.
As if this was not enough for the climate change deniers in government, the idiotic leader of the National Party, Michael McCormack blamed many of the fires on children with matches. Of course, many other climate change deniers with no expertise in climate science jumped on this and blamed arsonists. Apart from McCormack, I first heard this as an explanation for the horrendous fires in Australia from a seriously deranged climate change denier who said that there were hundreds of arsonists who had been arrested. This was, um, ‘extrapolated’ from a British Broadcasting Corporation which reported one case of an arsonist being arrested. As I said; deranged. Yesterday in Canberra a man was arrested for starting a grassfire. These are isolated occurrences and only about 13% of bushfires in Australia can be attributed with certainty to arson, while 37% are suspicious in that they may be arson or caused by people breaking fire bans. In fact, many of the fires, particularly those in isolated areas are started by ‘dry’ lightning strikes from thunderstorms which have little or no rain accompanying the lightning5. To think that arsonists could travel kilometres, mostly by hiking into remote bush with a box of matches is fanciful, and only really appeals to those desperate to deflect attention from their denialism, or those too ignorant to understand how fanciful it is.
This blameshifting to Greens or arsonists seems not to have worked except among the gullible. However, now there is another blame-game afoot. Apparently in an effort to avoid any further finger pointing, and suggestions that they go and have sex with themselves, for their slow reaction to the bushfire disaster, the federal government is now backgrounding against the Coalition government of Gladys Berejiklian6. This they are doing by stating that Berejiklian refused federal assistance in evacuating people stranded on beaches. When queried about this, Berejiklian replied, in part: “I’ve not heard those comments, the prime minister and I have been in constant contact today and that’s not actually accurate.”7 The Morrison government cannot help themselves.