MUNGO MACCALLUM. Proud to be dumb.

David Littleproud has a somewhat unwieldy title – Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disasters and Emergency Management. But, keeping it simple, he is happy to live up to his name: he knows very little, and is bloody  well proud about it.

Asked whether the calamitously early bushfire season might have something to do with man-made climate change, Littleproud responded cheerfully: “I’ve no idea…. I’m not a scientist, I haven’t an opinion one way or the other…. I don’t have an opinion but I don’t think it really matters”.

If his insouciance meant anything, it seemed to suggest that as long as the taxpayers were prepared to go on funding the results of his ignorance, he was doing his job; and although he scrambled back later to admit that perhaps the scientists who overwhelmingly believe in the reality of man-made climate change might have a point, it was still nothing to do with him – nothing to see here, move along please.

In fact those on the front line – the worried residents of rural communities and of course the firefighters themselves – think it matters quite a lot. As they put it, climate change may not have lit the match, but it is making things a lot more difficult.

And there will be worse to come: there is pressure to bring the fire danger season forward from October to September, and perhaps extend it further into Autumn. Similarly, the drought may not have been the direct trigger for climate change, but its severity and longevity cannot be denied.

The rivers are literally drying up and the only solutions offered are beyond absurd. Water is already being diverted to supply thirsty townships, and the latest idea seems to be to switch the rivers off entirely – to cancel the normal flushing entirely.

This is risibly described as allowing nature to take its course. If this was truly the motive, presumably the proponents would advocate shutting out the irrigation pumps and canals, opening the dams and letting the rivers run.

But of course this is not the plan – it is pure self interest. Understandable, in the desperate plight some find themselves, but hardly sensible policy, even in the short turn. If the rivers die, so surely will those who depend on them. And even without artificial aid, climate change is surely, and not so slowly, diminishing them to critical levels.

So Littleproud’s solution? Give the country the tools to adjust – by which he apparently means keep pouring out the drought relief and praying for rain in the delusion that once the drought breaks, we can all get back to normal. The point is that normal has changed: the new norm is hotter, drier and longer droughts, harsher conditions all round.

And the old Murray-Darling Basin Plan, whose report Littleproud has not yet read (“there are 750 pages, nearly, to read. It would be very pre-emptive to make any assumptions from me” – far too many difficult words for a National minister) is clearly now obsolete – if it ever had any integrity left after Littleproud’s predecessor, the unlamented Barnaby Joyce, had rorted it to the point of extinction.

So Littleproud is resigned to the likelihood that there is really nothing he can do except watch on: “And let me brace you all, these disasters will happen again. That is the way of nature. But let me say, these water managers had to make a decision about the use of  that water, the use of the water that would evaporate. Ag science will tell you that if you leave water out in the hot sun it will evaporate.“

Well yes, and especially if you don’t keep it flowing.  And obviously allowing absentee landlords to  speculate and hoard what water remains in the hope of accumulating windfall profits is not helping either. So when all the rivers run dry, what is plan B – or even plan A, for that matter?

For Littleproud and his colleagues, there just isn’t one – it is all too hard. And the grim reality is that it is probably too late anyway – years, decades of neglect have meant that the damage has been done and may be irretrievable. Even the incorrigible optimists are starting to give up.

Labor stalwarts are now talking about ditching their ambitious aim of a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, because there is no longer sufficient time to implement it within their self-imposed deadline; they had expected to be in government by now, but even if they win in 2022, time is running out. There is still a hope – and it is no more than that – that net zero emissions by 2050 remains achievable.

But this is the kind of pie-in-the-sky stuff which Littleproud espouses. What is need, as the firefighters and the increasing number of Australians now directly threatened by climate change realise, is immediate action. And there is absolutely no prospect that they are going to get it.

ScoMo keeps blathering on about what is really important to hard-working Australians — lower taxes, keeping more money in their pockets, deporting asylum seekers, wedging opponents and pretending that everything is just hunky-dory as long as he is there as their miraculous messiah. His vision is, always has been and always will be, limited to the next election.

The position embraced by our leader and its party is that because the voters – or at least a sizeable majority of them – believe in climate change, the government has to pretend it does too. Most of it doesn’t, and in any case it has no intention of doing anything about it.

The catechism is one of serial denial. Climate change isn’t happening – it’s fake news, invented by sinister socialists attempting to overthrow elected governments to make more money for themselves. But if by some chance climate change could be real, it is certainly not man-made – the race is too puny to influence the massive forces of nature, ordained by God. But if some portions of it are actually anthropogenically induced, no problem, technology will solve everything. But if, regrettably, it doesn’t, we can always adapt to the consequences. And if we can’t, well, God will provide.

Or perhaps not. Either way, there will be even less reason for David Littleproud to boast of his ignorance and impotence.


Mungo MacCallum is a veteran political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy.

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9 Responses to MUNGO MACCALLUM. Proud to be dumb.

  1. Michael D. Breen says:

    ‘In my view cotton and rice growing should be banned’ mine too. What would we need to do to get this to happen?

  2. Ed from Perth says:

    Things are going to have to get a lot worse before the people that voted for these self serving mendacious liars realise they have been had as well as being misinformed by the MSM.

    I too, have no sympathy for the people now crying for help.

  3. Geoff Andrews says:

    I love the dorks’ defence that, as you say, ” the race is too puny to influence the massive forces of nature”.
    We nearly have 8 billions inhabitants. Here is a disgusting thought: assume the average length of a turd is 100mm (4 inches). If we could lay each turd end to end, the resulting conga line of turds (no, not the LNP) would be 800,000 km long and thus able to encircle the earth 20 times each day or easily go to the moon and back every day. Laid (sic) side by side, in a year we would have a four lane highway 100 metres wide and 40,000km long weighing 290,000,000 tonnes. We are exuding poo at the rate of 33,000 km/hr ie it would take 7 minutes to cross Australia.
    Thank goodness most of this goes into the sea where we can forget about it.
    As for being “puny”. The diameter of the Earth is 8,000,000 times the height of the average adult. The HIV virus is about 12,000,000 times smaller than the average adult. I wonder what effect injecting 8 billion HIV viruses into a once healthy human could possibly have.
    Let’s ask the aptly named Minister for Drought (and a damned good job he’s doing about THAT too!)
    Just playing with figures.

  4. John Thomas says:

    Gabrielle Chan (The Guardian) assured us some time ago that the good folk who live out in the bush and along places like the Murray-Darling rivers had had enough of the corruption and incompetence of the National Party. They were ‘rusted off’, she said. Instead they would vote for such ethical and thoughtful parties as One Nation and the Fishers, Shooters and Farmers parties.
    However, come the election and once again these people voted overwhelmingly for rural socialist handouts.
    They deserve everything they get. Sorry.

    • Albert Haran says:

      And that goes double for New England.

      • Lorraine Osborn says:

        About a third of the enrolled voters in New England either didn’t bother to vote, voted informal or cast a donkey vote in May. There are many explanations for this. As a former resident for over thirty years, I can say not everyone in the electorate thinks the beetrooter is a
        fit and proper person for anything much. He has worked the electorate to shore up the base of tragic diehards who would vote for a fence post if it had the National Party logo on it and has a cabal of bullies who support him.

  5. Jocelyn Pixley says:

    A Federal ICAC that looks at Ministers, MPs, subservient staffers and public servants is urgent. The public must be able to raise complaints to that kind of ICAC, by no means not Morrison’s wafer-thin version. So slick the oil is dripping off it.
    In my view cotton and rice growing should be banned – Hewson has said this for years – and these Agribusiness people, under a proper ICAC , would also show their calumny to achieve a no-compensation banning. Australia is far too dry to permit this mob, and, with this emergency their dams must be allowed to wash though the tragedy of the river system.
    There will be major resistance but as many adults as kids should be out on Friday’s protest to show a far larger population is appalled.
    I cannot now see photos of ministers and CEOs without feeling suspicious.

    • Ken Dyer says:

      Banning cotton and rice growing may well happen sooner rather than later, not from government intervention, but from the reality of the drought.

      Humans are running a funny experiment where we will eventually find out if we are warming the world so much that humans one day won’t be able to step outside in some regions. Literally.

      There’s so much destruction from global warming that would lead to that era that, even if we did let the experiment run that far out of control, no human may be around to care.

  6. Lorraine Osborn says:

    Today this man of no shame has announced yet another drought relief quango with a starting budget of 3.5 billion dollars. Dr Wendy Craik is the chair. Given her track record over many years on endless boards and authorities dealing with water management and climate change, the outcome of exactly zero positive impact is to be expected. No one in the LNP know what to do. They know we are heading for a very bad fall but their incompetence and ideological prejudices render them incapable of tackling the clear and present danger.

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