The Crikey editorial yesterday honed in on the feral
anti-environmentalism displayed this week by Murdoch attack dogs
Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann, even after six credible CEOs
tolled the bell and declared we must get serious about climate change.

Having spent three years occupying the Herald Sun office next to
McCrann and two down from Bolt, I can provide some insights into their
modus operandi. McCrann has a great brain but he loves to duck out for
a coffee and a smoke and it is on these occasions that you get to talk
through the issues, sometimes even influencing his columns.

Jeff Kennett once alleged that I’d poisoned McCrann and turned him into
a critic of his government and there’s an element of truth in this.
McCrann never baulked in backing his business editor during the
mid-to-late 1990s as the two of us got further and further into dispute
with Kennett over his various ethical blind spots.

Fast forward a few years and it is Bolt who is chewing McCrann’s ear
and influencing his columns. The similar attacks on those preaching
climate change doom and gloom is a strong example, as were the
co-ordinated attacks on Peter Costello last month.

McCrann generally has more credibility than the hysterical and offensive Bolt but his one big weakness is a complete sycophancy
towards the Rupert Murdoch agenda, no matter what the facts may be. Today’s column on News Corp’s poison pill may as well have been written by a delusional Murdoch himself as McCrann declared: “It’s
entirely likely that the pill will be endorsed near-unanimously.
Despite their litigation, it’s clearly in the interests of the instos
(and all shareholders).”

Rupert is no supporter of the environmental movement which probably
reflects the fact that he personally has been responsible for
more tree destruction and waste paper than anyone in the history of
humanity.

At university you learn about this thing called externalities – the
damage that a company’s products can cause the wider community. One
solution is to tax companies to help pay for the damage and discourage
them from producing too much of their product, which is precisely where
a carbon tax comes in. Coal is poison and it should be taxed more
heavily than other forms of energy because of the long-term damage of
climate change.

The fossil fuels industry bleats about stranded assets if Australia
introduces a carbon tax. However, if a carbon tax was finally accepted
in Australia, wouldn’t the debate quickly move on to other forms of new
taxes to penalise those who damage the environment? Rather than stranded coal-fired power stations, you might then find
yourself talking about stranded printing plants if governments started
taxing newspaper companies for the cost of their waste.

So next time you read an anti-Green spray in the Murdoch press, just
remind yourself that the company controls 70% of Australia’s newspapers
but trashes the environment, destroy millions of trees and creates an
awful lot of mess along the way.

Dead tree journalism is sadly not an efficient allocation of community
resources, so of course these dinosaurs will talk their own book and
attempt to discredit anything which vaguely moves towards sending more
accurate price signals to those who cause environmental damage.

Peter Fray

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