Today we hand over the soapbox to our outgoing editor-in-chief, Sophie Black. Sophie leaves Private Media today after 10 years, a big stint of which was as ed and deputy ed of Crikey, so we asked her to write a commemorative Crikey says. Go well, Blackie.

Carbon pricing doesn’t fit neatly into a sound bite, but Bill “Zinger” Shorten is giving it a red-hot go. “Let me say this to our opponents, in words of one syllable: an ETS is not a tax,” he said last week, before daring Tony Abbott to “bring it on” and call an early election.

And who can blame the Opposition Leader for becoming monosyllabic when the Prime Minister responds with gems like this? 

“The ETS that Labor keeps talking about might as well be called an electricity tax scam because that’s what it is.”

In turn, the ALP has come back with what can only be described as the Joel Fitzgibbon fingers-in-ears method:

“Call it a tax if you like. It’s a price. I don’t care if people call it a tax. If they want to run a scare campaign, fine.”

You should care, Joel.

Because the thing is, this policy problem requires several syllables, some consonants, complete sentences, a bonus paragraph and even some maths: reducing emissions does cost someone, something. The onus is on our leaders to explain how and why it should. Given there’s not much chance of that, that means the media are next cab off the rank.

The challenge: find a more effective way to call politicians out on their fudged figures, incorrect terminology and flat-out wrong information. We don’t care how you do it. Long-form, listicle, Periscope, picture gallery, podcast, Snapchat, sky writing.

Just don’t do a 2011. Media, we’re better than that.*

Then, after accurately reporting the actual cost, to whom it goes to and how, please attempt to link it back to why the policy makers believe it is necessary. And that requires two words, and not much more than one syllable: climate change.


(*Well those of us who aren’t Alan Jones.)

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey