The Australian

From the Crikey grapevine, it’s the latest tips and rumours…

Flogging a debunked horse. Since News Corp and the government are trying to re-run the asylum seeker scare campaign of 2001, it’s understandable that they’re pulling out other scare campaigns of yesteryear. 

A favourite Howard government technique for rejecting climate change action was that it would cost tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars. That claim was based on fossil-fuel industry funded modelling purporting to show the differences over many decades between business-as-usual scenarios and scenarios involving climate action (usually with maximal assumptions about negative impacts). The differences were then presented as real-world outcomes (“climate change will cost 100,000 jobs, new report shows”) when they were entirely fictional.

The master of such modelling was Brian Fisher, when he ran the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics, although he is better known in Canberra these days for being part of the ill-fated right-wing economics consultancy Concept Economics.

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This week, The Australian ran a report from Fisher that could have come straight from the glory days of the Howard government’s climate denialism. Hilariously, author Simon “drops king” Benson tried to portray Fisher as some sort of moderate in climate debates, ignoring Fisher’s long history at ABARE (where he insisted that land clearing restrictions were “frankly irrational”).

Fisher hasn’t updated his techniques since the Howard years, however, so he peddled similar claims — presented in literally apocalyptic terms by Benson — that differences between scenarios were actual job losses. Alas for Brian and Simon — and Liberal climate denialists like Angus Taylor who seized on the “report” — it’s no longer 2001 in the media. Fisher’s report was quickly demolished by Renew Economy and on social media. Update your tactics, chaps.

The Herald‘s $500 schmooze-fest. Ms Tips has recently been inundated with ads for this weekend’s long-awaited Sydney Morning Herald Schools Summit, a day-long event which marks a continuation of the Nine masthead’s focus on education. The event boasts a star-studded line-up of politicians, journalists, and industry insiders (aka private school principals); attendees will hear them opine on everything from AI in the classroom, to the future of selective schools (one of the Herald’s favourite punching bags).

Education minister Dan Tehan will deliver a keynote, followed by a “fireside chat” between deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek and Herald editor Lisa Davies. This excellent hobnobbing opportunity, which contributes eight hours towards getting accredited as a teacher in NSW, could be yours — all for a very cool $544.50 (including GST).

Nationals’ geographic. Horny National Party men may have been pushed off the front page, but that hasn’t stopped them providing regular, insightful commentary on the state of the country. Since his demotion to the backbench, former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has enjoyed the freedom to tweet his mind — first there was this bizarre bit of Snapchat art, then a torturous visual gag about cricket.

This week, it was the very large moon which caught Joyce’s attention:

The only thing bigger than the moon was Joyce’s ever large Twitter ratio.

Not to be outdone, Nationals MP Andrew Broad, fresh off the Sugar Baby scandal that ended his parliamentary career, offered some thoughts on the Coalition’s notorious female representation problem. “Politics is very gruelling on people who want to have a family, and the very nature of biology is that it’s tougher on women,” Broad said.

A Fringe estimate. The fringe festival rolled into Adelaide last week and the sleepy South Australian capital is coming alive. Still, in their excitement for what locals call “Mad March”, the organisers might have somewhat overestimated national media interest in the festival.

An email received by Crikey claimed that there were more than 600 accredited journalists attending the festival. This figure ought be taken with a slight grain of salt — there probably aren’t even close to half that many arts journalists in Australia. As Crikey recently reported, it is a fast dwindling beat. Perhaps Mad March got to their heads.

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