(Image: AP/Dean Lewins)

Non-action man Crikey has long watched, agog as Australia’s press not only credited Scott Morrison’s announcements as though they were action, but gave the prime minister credit for things he’d not even announced.

In February Morrison saying Australia would “preferably” reach zero net emissions by 2050 was taken as evidence that Morrison was shifting to “a more ambitious climate change target”. In April his announcement that he would not allow his climate policy to be “dictated by the inner cities” was interpreted as a continued “inching” or “shifting” towards zero emissions.

Now, to their credit, most outlets are at least correctly identifying that Morrison’s G7 speech doesn’t actually contain anything of the sort — indeed, we note the irony that after all the credit Morrison has received for his preferences and intentions, he argues that “ambition alone won’t solve the problem of actually reducing emissions”.

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I’ll see you in courtship When Shakespeare wrote that “the course of true love never did run smooth” he could not have foreseen the current stand-off in the Federal Court in Sydney.

The Ben Roberts-Smith defamation case, a multimillion-dollar operation involving several highly priced members of the Sydney and Melbourne bar, was brought to a screeching halt this morning by a few tricky questions about the personal relationship between the former soldier and a member of his legal team. Justice Bromwich asked for more details about an important affidavit sworn by solicitor Monica Allen, with whom Roberts-Smith had reportedly been in a relationship.

It all revolves around a separate legal proceedings Roberts-Smith has taken against his former wife, Emma Roberts. She had been expected to give evidence for her former husband but has switched sides and is giving evidence for the media outlets. The problem is that an affidavit about this matter has been witnessed and sworn by Allen.

Bromwich said this morning that he had found this out from media reports and was “uncomfortable with this situation”.

Mediscare 2.0 After Labor’s relative lack of cut-through on Coalition assaults on worker protections last year, it’s nice to know federal ALP still has at least one issue it feels confident attacking the government on.

Though experts vary on just how much of an attack the Liberals’ Medicare changes actually represents, Labor’s going hard. Anthony Albanese, knowing how much we like the old stuff, reposted a picture of himself fighting to oppose the closure of his local Medicare office 20 years ago (perhaps not the best example, given the last Labor government’s initiative of “simplifying” human services locations by closing Medicare offices and rolling them in with Centrelink offices).

Meanwhile Bill Shorten, always happy to roll out his greatest hit, reposted the fake Medicare card that typified the original “Mediscare” campaign, and which got him so close to Malcolm Turnbull in 2016.

Return of the hack What is it with Labor hacks and reality TV? The announcement of the contestant list for the coming Brains v Brawn Survivor introduces us to “George, a political operative”.

“You’ve got to be willing to pull people’s strings,” he says. “As a faceless man in the Labor Party, that’s what I’ll be doing.”

And I know what you’re thinking: “Oooh, who’s that guy? I get the firm impression he didn’t come on this show to make friends, but to be No. 1…”

But of course this isn’t the first Labor hack to grace the world of reality TV. Alisha Aitken-Radbury worked in Bill Shorten’s media team and as an events director for NSW Labor as well as appearing on The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise.

Life of O’Brien We sense a theme here. Just as Victoria’s Liberals spent Australia’s worst experience of COVID-19 calling Premier Dan Andrews “lurch” rather than raising legitimate questions about the government’s management of the crisis, yesterday they decided to wink at conspiracy theories about how Andrews came to injure his back rather than raising legitimate questions of when we can actually expect him to return.

The legitimising of the eminently shareable (and frequently debunked) theory that Andrews was either blackout drunk at billionaire Lindsay Fox’s house — or was beaten up there — forced Ambulance Victoria to issue a statement clarifying certain details of its involvement. Today it was revealed that Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien hadn’t even read the statement. Which slightly goes against the Liberals’ hands up “Hey man, just asking questions” response to the criticism they’ve received over spreading conspiracy theories.

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Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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