Extremism: So Hot Right Now
By Mike SeccombeJanuary 10, 2013
According to Liberal frontbencher Eric Abetz, the Australian Greens Party is the “epitome of extremism”. Talk about the pot calling the kettle extremist.
Abetz was inspired to his alliterative epithet because a couple of Greens Senators, notably party leader Christine Milne, refused to condemn the anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan, over a hoax which — for about 90 minutes, until it was discovered — decreased the value of Whitehaven Coal by more than $300 million on Monday.
It was the simplest of hoaxes. Moylan dummied up a press release, purporting to be from the ANZ Bank, saying it had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan for a new coal mine.
(The trick, we might add, would not have had its effect if members of the financial media had bothered to check the veracity of Moylan’s fake press release before publishing stories.)
Milne described the hoax as being part of “a long and proud history of civil disobedience” in Australia.
This was, when you parse it, a pretty mild endorsement, more a statement of the bleeding obvious, really.
More importantly, Milne specifically denied any foreknowledge of the hoax. She also said “nobody is above the law”. She went on to draw the links between coal mining and climate change, and to question the ethics of those involved in mining or the funding of mining.
You can hear her whole argument, in context, here.
To be fair, we should note that another Greens Senator went further, in a tweet congratulating Moylan for “exposing ANZ investment in coal mines”.
But again, there is no evidence of direct involvement of the Greens party in the stunt.
But to Eric Abetz, this made the Greens “extremists” with “communist connections”.
“With the Greens,” he said, “it is always a case of the ends justifying the means.”
This all prompts a couple of observations.
First, Eric Abetz should know a thing or two about hoaxes. He was the man who first produced, in a Parliamentary estimates committee, an email — subsequently proven a forgery — which purported to show then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had received mates’ rates on a car in return for favours to a Brisbane car dealer.
The source of the information was one Godwin Grech, a Treasury official identified by other members of the Coalition as its “mole” inside the department who channelled information to them.
Abetz was the conduit by which this libel made its way into Hansard. Which puts him rather closer to the scene of the crime than the Greens in the ANZ press release hoax.
Second, there is the broader issue of Liberal Party spies in the bureaucracy, digging dirt on the government, contrary to all notions of public service neutrality. Sounds a lot like the means justifying the ends, does it not?
The Grech affair ultimately played a role in losing Malcolm Turnbull the Liberal leadership, not that it would have upset Abetz a whole lot.
The Senator, you see, was an implacable opponent of the introduction of a carbon-emissions trading scheme, which Turnbull favoured.
Turnbull, an intelligent, informed and rational person, believes human-caused climate change is a real and huge problem, which requires action.
Abetz, like perhaps a quarter to a third of Coalition MPs and Senators (by the estimate of a Coalition source who is in a position to know), is a climate-change sceptic.
How these people can remain unconvinced is a mystery. Of course, one of the hallmarks of extremism is its resistance to rational argument, its insistence on belief in the face of the evidence.
And with climate change, the evidence is overwhelming. Christine Milne, in the interview cited above, noted Australia has just experienced its two hottest days ever.
But an even more startling factoid appeared in The New York Times of January 8, in a story reporting that 2012 was, by one full degree Fahrenheit, the hottest year ever in the United States.
“Nobody who is under 28 has lived through a month of global temperatures that fell below the 20th-century average, because the last such month was February 1985,” it reported.
Got that? Nobody. In the world.
And here in Australia we have two major political groups: the Coalition parties which don’t know whether they believe in climate change or not, and the Labor Party, which pays lip service to the need to do something but is intent on extracting more fossil fuels as fast as possible.
And then there are the Greens, who accept there is a crisis, and actually have the temerity to suggest it is unethical to mine ever-increasing amounts of the stuff which is causing the crisis.
Is this extremist? Or just logical?