Thanks for your long and emotional response. I’m guessing that you haven’t read many of my other stories on Medium.

I’m well aware of the concept of gaslighting. Why did you assume otherwise? It is part of the vocabulary of current political discourse.

Don Trump uses that sort of tactic when he says “Nobody knew xxx” when he generally means he didn’t know xxx until somebody told him. It works if his audience is equally ignorant, but well, I know what gaslighting is, I can recognise it when it is being used, and I am kind of disappointed in you.

I can’t say I spend much time listening to the PM. ScoMo seems to be pitching the views of experts in this current crisis. I do like the national cabinet he’s set up. Excellent mechanism for making sure all the various government leaders are working from the same facts instead of acting alone. The States and the Commonwealth have, between them, all the powers needed to deal with the crisis, and they seem to be dividing the management fairly well so far.

One thing I thought was particularly practical was the direct intervention to make sure that people had the means to self-isolate. It’s no good that 70% of Australians stay home when the other 30% have no choice but to be out in the community trying to pay their bills. This is where America is falling down. Their stimulus package essentially paid big business tens of thousands of dollars per citizen while giving a few $1 200.

My “non-fake news” sources are The Washington Post, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Atlantic and so on. After the 2016 disaster, I culled anything too partisan, anything with low journalistic standards, anything aimed at entertainment rather than facts and analysis.

I assume you believe Australians should be willing to sacrifice their own lives, and that of their loved ones, in order to “save the economy”?

Why would you assume that? Nothing I’ve ever said supports that idea. I reject this whole-heartedly. I’ve taken a hit financially, I’ve had to cancel some overseas travel, and my social life has been sparse, but I’d rather be here next year than have a healthy estate for my executor to distribute. I assume that this is a fairly common view.

Besides, if we open up too soon or too much, the disease spreads and we just have to lock up again, for even more economic cost. Judging by our cases and deaths, I think we’ve done pretty well so far, and I guess our various governments are watching the numbers as keenly as I. If the latest easing of restrictions sends the numbers up, I dare say we’ll be tightened up again.

Your “cool video” is entertaining, but hardly useful as a source of facts. If it is endorsed by Greta Thunberg, then perhaps you could provide a link to a direct statement of endorsement? I followed the link you gave, and couldn’t find anything of that nature. Perhaps you could provide her exact words?

I’ve spoken about Greta Thunberg previously. Perhaps a little sensational in her manner, but she is certainly an inspiration in raising awareness of what is a huge threat to our global environment. Your guess that I’m “probably a climate-denier” is way off target, but of course you tell me that you’re a researcher and you check your facts, so you aren’t exactly inspiring confidence here.

You need to go beyond the deliberately provocative headline to my final paragraphs:

But nor is climate change something to ignore. It is a vital topic in the global conversation, and as the effects of climate change grow, there will have to be some balance and perspective in the debate. How much pain do we want to go through? Can we ride on the efforts of others? Can we make up for slackers? Can we find some clever shortcut?

The last thing we need is for the world’s great economies and the rich consumers of the bulk of the world’s energy to shrug their shoulders and declare it is not a problem, or it is not their problem. We only have one planet, and we have to deal with the problem as one.

Or be consumed by it regardless.

Disaster relief is a Commonwealth function and the Commonwealth reacted well. I wrote some stories at the time with a lot of links.

I’m wondering how you see the executive power as ambiguous. I’m referring to the constitutional power in Section 61. There is a good overview here, with plenty of references. Perhaps you have a Disneyfied view of government where the Leader can do anything they want, and that is “executive power”?

Top fire officials attempted to warn Australia’s leaders about the predicted severity of the bushfire season.

Did they really? I thought these were ex-officials, not those actually doing the job. The Commonwealth participates in regular meetings of the heads of the various Australian emergency services — and I’ve written about that mechanism as well, if you had troubled to look — and I’m not sure that national government should be too strongly influenced by lobby groups as opposed to those with paid public service positions, and the actual responsibility for keeping the nation safe.

The Commonwealth was involved in planning for the upcoming fire season well before the summer crisis. The Defence Force was involved early on — as planned, and as normal. There doesn’t seem to have been much the Commonwealth could legally do until a disaster actually occurred. The role of the Prime Minister isn’t to fight fires or even lead the efforts of the States in that area, but if you can find some official document, some law, some regulation to that effect, I’d be interested to read it. You are a researcher, of course, and you check your facts and you never ever engage in gaslighting, for example by promoting falsehoods.

A feature of the contemporary global political landscape is the emergence of social media trolls sponsored by states to promote alternative narratives that will seem credible to those who lean in a certain direction and embrace confirmation bias. These narratives aim at promoting division. We see their effect all around us, where some are promoting absurd theories as to the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott Morrison, as it happens, is enjoying high levels of public support for his handling of the pandemic. I’m guessing that you would join me in preferring that our PM was Jacinta Ardern, but we elected ScoMo, and it’s beginning to look like he may yet be the first PM to win re-election since John Howard. Unlike the four in between, he doesn’t look like he’s going to be dumped by his own party, and just between you and me, I cannot see Albo as inspiring the nation to change leaders.

I said at the time of the last election that I honestly didn’t care who won. Bill Shorten won a lot of points with me, but my opinions don’t always translate into national views, and ScoMo won a surprise victory. I heard a lot of pundits talk a lot of nonsense about policies, but I had a different view, as I noted in my blog.


Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

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