Is Scott Morrison the fatberg lurking in the #auspol sewers?

March 26, 2021

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when one of the government’s favoured Accredited Stenographer®™’s Phil Coorey described Twitter as Australia’s political sewer and his pal Chris Uhlmann took great delight in calling people like us ‘sewer rats’?

Well, you won’t be surprised to know that both of these fine and well-credentialed apologists are not really all that good at political geography.

As it turns out, what we’ve learned over the past few months is that the real political sewer runs deep and wide through the corridors of power.

The waste treatment plant of this system of pipes, tunnels and odure-filled trenches is actually situated on a hilltop inside the Parliamentary Circle. It is the political heart toilet cubicle of our nation’s capital.

Over recent weeks, we’ve all seen how totally dysfunctional this poo-processing facility is. Some of us—in fact many of us—have been saying for some time that the Morrison government stinks but now nobody can deny the rising stench emanating from the grease traps of Canberra.

You don’t need me to tell you about all of the scandals, the corruption, the self-serving, insider trading, treachery and dirty double-dealing. IA has been covering it for ages, but let’s just recap some of the highlights.

Reefgate. Angus Taylor. Barnaby Joyce. Michaela Cash. SportsRorts. Peter Dutton. Christian Porter. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the scandals. Forgive me if I missed your favourite.

All of this was common knowledge well before Louise Milligan pricked the Canberra Bubble on 4 Corners back in November 2020.

Since then, we’ve learned of the severely problematic, brutal and deeply misogynist frat-boy culture inside Parliament House and heard allegations of rape, assault, sex workers smuggled into MPs offices, and debauched ‘solo sex acts’ by a cabal of depraved and privileged young men who think they are born to rule the world via their big swinging dicks.

We—the voters of Australia—are entitled to ask “What the actual fark is going on?”

Well, I haven’t said much about federal politics for a while. I was finishing a book and obsessed with the American election right up until Joe Biden was safely inaugurated at the end of January.

I have been watching closely though, and I have a theory. I suggest you refrain from eating while you read the rest of this piece, I don’t want to be responsible for causing you to gag on your cereal or spit back into your coffee mug.

So, put down the cup, the knife, the fork or spoon…and read on.

If my analogy holds true—that the corridors of power are the national political sewer—then what role does the Prime Minister play in this toxic eco-system?

It’s simple: Scott Morrison is the fatberg blocking the drain.

A fatberg is a giant mass of sludge that solidifies inside the sewer system. It’s mostly composed of grease and dirty cooking oil tipped down kitchen sinks, but they can grow to an enormous size and their contents provide a remarkable insight into the daily habits of everybody who contributes to its mass. The biggest fatbergs can weigh upwards of 100 tonnes and grow to around 80 metres in length.

According to the New York Times, a fatberg forming under the city of London was analysed by scientists a couple of years ago, and they found it contained traces of narcotics, condoms, wet wipes and incontinence pads.

I’m sure a chemical analysis of the Morrison fatberg would reveal similar results.

The major problem with fatbergs is that they clog up a system that’s designed to drain away all the nasties for treatment and recycling. When properly cleaned and decontaminated, waste-water can be safely re-consumed by humans.

There’s not much chance of that happening in Canberra.

When a fatberg blocks the natural drainage system of sewer pipes it backs up and contaminates the whole site.

An early Roman public toilet

The Romans invented urban sanitation, and called their first sewer system the Cloaca Maxima. Do you think that if Morrison was a Caesar perhaps he’d choose this as his moniker.

Compared to modern standards, the Roman cloaca was pretty inadequate. It stank and it didn’t really do much for public health or reduce the number of parasites feeding in the putrid waste.

I’m sure all of this sounds familiar.

The Morrison fatberg has pretty much the same effect. All of the waste and its parasites back up right through the corridors of power. The fatberg makes it impossible for them to be drained away.

The results are on display now.

The over-compensated and over-rated cohort of parasitic man-acting boy staffers who teem and squirm in the slime follow their leaders, looking to them for examples of how to behave.

When senior ministers are rewarded for loyalty to the fatberg, rather than exemplary performance of their duties, the parasites learn to mimic their behaviour.

When senior male members of the government indulge in ostentatious, publicly promiscuous sexual charades, and treat their female colleagues as disposable sex toys, the parasites feel emboldened to act the same way.

A fatberg survives by collecting all of the wet wipes, the cum-stained tissues, the discarded roaches, crack pipes and oxycontin packaging, and adhering all this sexual detritus to its swelling torso.

A fatberg attracts the most unsavoury and unflushable lumps of muck to itself. It feeds on the discarded evidence of gluttony and infamy.

A fatberg sees the world as fodder to feed its putrid appetites. This is what Morrison has done this week.

Morrison has this same transactional tunnel vision as a parasite-ridden fatberg. His outburst on Monday (23 March) accusing some Sky News journalists of the vile behaviours he has tacitly condoned among the parasites shows how gluttonous the Prime Minister is.

In April last year a fatberg was pulled out of the sewers under Melbourne’s streets. It was longer than a petrol tanker according to news reports (though no mention of how many Olympic-sized swimming pools it would fill, unfortunately).

The Melbourne fatberg weighed 42 tonnes (a small one by global standards) but it still took nine hours and a couple of giant cranes to remove.

The Morrison fatberg is at least that big, though my guess it’s at least twice the size of the Melbourne giant.

Morrison is wedged into a narrow pipe, deep inside the system and it will take a plumber’s friend of enormous size and power to shift him.

The plumber’s friend. $4.95 from Bunnings

Until we can find plunger that’s up to the job, the backed-up drains on Capital Hill will continue to throw up more toxic sludge, and feed the parasites.

The Romans were apparently wary of connecting their domestic sewer pipes to the Cloaca Maxima because they were afraid of what might crawl out of it to literally bite them on the bum.

The sewers of Rome were also notorious for the emissions of toxic and flammable mephitic gasses that were oxygen depleted but rich in nitrogen. Now we know what it is that keeps the Canberra Bubble inflated.

The Romans also used to wipe their arses with a sponge on a stick and then pass it around.

How long before we hear something similar from the sewers of power?


Hands off the ABC – Turnbull should resign his commission

June 25, 2015

The Abbott government’s political interference into public broadcasting has just got serious.

Very serious.

Heads should roll

Not content with going beyond his ministerial brief and ringing Mark Scott in the middle of the night to demand answers, the Duke of Double Bay has now decided to politicise his department by demanding senior officers conduct an inquiry into the ABC’s editorial decision-making.

The ego of this merchant wanker seemingly knows no bounds.

Everybody who ever watched Play School or an ABC news bulletin should be outraged and demanding Malcolm Turnbully resign his commission.

Turnbull has breached his ministerial guidelines with this move, but he’s gloating about it.

The jumped-up, smug little Napoleon has gone well beyond what is acceptable in a system that relies on the separation of powers.

Turnbull’s inquiry is blatant political interference.

How else can you explain his “instruction” to his department — which we can presume knows little to nothing of news judgment and editorial decision-making.

Turnbully's instruction: fuck-up the ABC, but make it look like an accident

Turnbully’s instruction: fuck-up the ABC, but make it look like an accident

And the reason he thinks he can get away with it is that he did the last time.

Read the rest of this entry »


Can cuddling up with the commercial media save the ABC from Abbott’s axe?

July 31, 2013

For fans of publicly funded broadcasting in Australia, Mark Scott’s speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia last week had some good news elements, but is it enough to save the ABC?

According to Scott, the ABC is the nation’s most trusted institution; most of us are consuming ABC products and we like it a lot, despite its critics and naysayers.

However, for Friends of the ABC (FABC), Scott’s speech sent mixed signals about the national broadcaster’s future.

The Victorian spokesperson for FABC, Glenys Stradijot is “disappointed” that Scott appears to make an argument for the ABC in “purely commercial terms”, rather than emphasising the benefits of having a “truly independent” public broadcaster. It seems to “erode the very reason that the ABC exists” she says.

FABC-Conv-centre-25May13

Friends of the ABC picket the Victorian Liberal Party convention in May 2013 where a motion to privatise the ABC was due to be debated. The motion was not voted on after intervention by Tony #Abbocolypse Abbott

Read the rest of this entry »


Some interesting thoughts on social media for legacy giants

November 5, 2009

I’m at #media140 in Sydney, the keynote this morning was ABC managing director Mark Scott. He outlined some interesting innovations for legacy media wanting to get on the Twitterverse bandwagon.

 

He started with the 4Ts: Telegraph, Telephone, Typewriter, Twitter. An interesting geneaology of communications technologies.

Scott noted that the 4Ts have always been about short, sharp reports of breaking news; particularly the generation of good headlines. He talked about how the ABC is moving quickly to embrace social media with the appointment of a coordinator of social media to formalise the ABC’s presence across all social networking sites.

The ABC is also today releasing its guidelines for staff using social media. The four guiding principles are really about brand protection and like the NYT are designed not to give guidance for journalists using social media as  tool, but more about social media as a distribution network:

  1. Don’t mix professional and personal social media views in a way that will bring the ABC into disrepute
  2. Don’t undermine your effectiveness as work
  3. Don’t imply ABC endorsement for personal views
  4. Do not disclose confidential information

Nothing here about journalistic ethics.

Scott made a good point about sharing information and allowing audiences to distribute ABC content. Setting up a number of widgets for people to embed on Facebook and blogs etc is obviously good business sense.

The ABC’s also launching ABC Open as a “digital town square” and part of this is training UGC providers in 50 locations to generate content.

This is the pro-am model and as Scott mentioned there has to be journalistic leadership, but also recognising that the audience is often closer to the story – at least in the initial stages.

The catchphrases are collaboration; conversation, communication and partnerships.

More later when I’ve had time to digest this and get my hands on some more notes.

Julie Posetti also argued that this is a revolution, not a war, but no doubt there will be casualties.


Journalism and blogging: leave it to the machines?

October 23, 2009

In science and science fiction there’s a moment when it all goes to custard for the human race. It’s the singularity – often defined as the time when machines begin to out think humans.

We’re not there yet and I’m comfortable with predictions that it might happen 200 years after my demise. But you can never really trust futurist predictions.

We’ve already got smart(ish) bots hurtling around the interWebs chewing up data and spitting it out again in a clickable and commercial form, so I’m not too sanguine about what’s gong on in the DARP labs and other murky salons where “mad” scientists and uber-smart geeks tend to gather.

Anyway, there is evidence of not-so-smart machines out there already aggregating, redacting and posting prose that fills the holes between advertising links on some remote outposts of the blogosphere.

Take, for example, Biginfo, the website with the unbeatable cyber-catchline: “All of your info, on one page”.

Isn’t that the holy grail of the Internet? Isn’t this slogan the absolute bottom-line misison statement for Google?

We won’t need humans any more if Biginfo succeeds.

I  know about Biginfo because the site has linked to a post here at Ethical Martini. As you do, I went to check out why the site was linking and pushing some traffic my way.

This is what I found:

What is More Ethical Blogs or News Media?

20 October, 2009 (15:10) | News And Society | By: admin

// your advertisement goes here

We are chance more and more that readers conceive the aggregation contained in Blogs is more trusty than the indicant programme media. (I don’t conceive a candid comparability between the electronic media and Blogs makes such sense, so my comparability is direct: cursive touchable vs. cursive material.) While I encounter this agitate in ‘believability’ to be somewhat surprising, I staleness adjudge that I don’t conceive I personally undergo anybody that reads the production without a nagging distrustfulness and a taste of doubt. Even more, I move to be astonished at the ontogeny sort of grouping I undergo that do not modify pain to feature the newspaper.

The long post goes on in this vein for some depth. Here’s another of my favourite paras:

I module substance digit appearance on the supply of blogs vs. newspapers. A blogger, aforementioned me, is attractive the instance to indite most an supply that I poverty to indite most and that I see passionately about. Question: so, what most the mortal of ethics? Answer: I do not hit a deadline, I hit no application that is biased, and I modify intend to indite my possess headline!

I am willing to believe that this is a machine-translation of something written in another language (possibly Chinese?) by a blogger or someone and that in it’s original iteration it makes great sense. Also, if it had been translated by a moderately proficient human it would probably also be readable and cogent.

Are we redundant? Should we retreat and leave the web to dribblejaws who find it a convenient medium to feed their conspiracy theories and ugly prejudice?

I certainly hope not, continue reading if you’d like to know more about the singularity.

Read the rest of this entry »


Barbarians at the gates – Ultimo is smouldering?

October 15, 2009

Another very good analysis of Mark Scott’s Melbourne Uni speech which I covered yesterday. This from Trevor Cook at Crikey.com

Clueless in Ultimo

In other areas too we may come to see the world of the ‘empowered audience’ as deficient. Comment and opinion are everywhere on media sites these days, but there has been no similar expansion in facts, ideas and analysis, Scott’s much-heralded partnerships with the audience, like the barbarians attacking Rome, may be more suited to producing noise and colour than anything more enduring.

Fourth, it’s likely that the new media will be absorbed into the old media:

As the Western Roman Empire crumbled, the new Germanic rulers who conquered the provinces upheld many Roman laws and traditions. Many of the invading Germanic tribes were already Christianised, though most were followers of Arianism. They quickly converted to Catholicism, gaining more loyalty from the local Roman populations, as well as the recognition and support of the powerful Catholic Church. Although they initially continued to recognise indigenous tribal laws, they were more influenced by Roman Law and gradually incorporated it as well.

The ABC will still be the ABC with just a little more commentary from the audience. Not so much deliverance from the strictures of old media as an opportunity to join the slaves at the Mill.

The absorbtion is happening as we speak.

  • CNN’s iReport is IndyMedia on steroids, but without the awkward anarchist politics
  • TV on demand was YouTube
  • Twitter and Facebook are the cool new marketing tools that are supposed to help legacy media connect with YOOF

There’s a great comment thread on Scott’s speech on Larvatus Prodeo

Read the rest of this entry »


Media empires, the fall of Rome and the digital sublime

October 14, 2009

But now, anyone can instantly publish on the web. And as long as they have content people want to see and read they will reach millions. The extent of the revolution could not have been seen – the extent of the transformation.

Mark Scott, The Fall of Rome: Media after Empire, 14 October 2009

A nice thought isn’t it? Anyone can now reach an audience of millions if they have content that people want. It’s pleasant to imagine this world; a place free of the media barons, where simple souls like us can wield the once unassailable power of the moguls.

Too bad it’s just a digital myth at this point.

It is an aspect of what Vincent Mosco calls the “digital sublime”. a mythology that he says is sustained by the “collective belief that cyberspace was opening a new world by transcending what we once knew about time, space and economics” (2004: 3).

It is this mythology that leads many commentators to suggest that citizen journalism, or what I prefer to call “user-generated news-like content” is going to transcend and eventually replace the news industry of the 20th century.

But you know what, the media empire is an adaptive beast and while Rome wasn’t built in a day, it didn’t collapse overnight either.

Read the rest of this entry »


Australia’s Right to Know

September 3, 2007

Australians All » Australia’s Right to Know

You know things are in a state when media executives from the major corporate players in Australia get together to make a plea for freedom of the press. The statement was signed by the following:

John Hartigan Chairman and Chief Executive, News Limited
David Kirk Chief Executive Officer, Fairfax Media
Mark Scott Managing Director, ABC
David Leckie CEO Network Seven and Chairman of Free TV Australia
Shaun Brown Managing Director, SBS
Michael Anderson CEO Austereo and Chairman, Commercial Radio Australia
Clive Marshall CEO, AAP
Angelos Frangopoulos CEO, Sky News

The group has commissioned a report into the state of the media in Australia.

At its launch the coalition signalled that it would commission an “independent study of threats to free speech and expression in this country” which would address issues including:

  • “the effectiveness of freedom of information laws – given that freedom of information is at risk of becoming an oxymoron
  • the principles of open justice and the public’s right to know how courts operate
  • the tendency by courts to restrict public access using broad suppression orders
  • the level of transparency in criminal and family law cases
  • the risks that journalists and whistleblowers face jail even though they are acting in the public interest
  • the impact of new sedition laws on freedom of expression in media reporting and the performing arts
  • the risk that Australians can be detained without charge and reporting of such occurrences is illegal
  • whether defamation laws achieve the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to protect the reputation of individuals (even allowing for recent welcome reforms that created much greater uniformity across the country); and
  • the need for suppression, contempt and other state based restrictions to be reformed and made uniform across the country.”

It was subsequently announced that Irene Moss, the former commissioner of New South Wales government’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), would oversee the audit.


News 2.0

July 11, 2007

The book’s out.

You can order News 2.0 from the pubisher Allen & Unwin

Interviews with the author

A conversation with Colin Peacock on Mediawatch, 6 February 2011

I like talking to Colin Peacock. He interviewed me about News 2.0 today and it was very lively. I think I did a reasonable job.

On Public Address radio with Russell Brown and Damian Christie on 6 February 2011. Can journalism survive the Internet?

Reviews so far

Some reviews of News 2.0.
For the record

This is an excellent book, a must-read for every journalism student, tutor, journalist, media manager and academic media-watcher.

Newzwire Jim Tucker

Hirst is undoubtedly the right person to tackle the job, having previously co-authored Journalism Ethics and Communications and New Media and here all that expertise is used to illuminate the precarious state of journalism in the digital age.

Artshub Matt Millikan

Hirst suggests one of the main reasons people turn online for their news is a mistrust of mainstream media by the public. Overall, the book was an interesting read.

The Fringe Magazine Scott Wilson

And the first…Alan Knight, professor of journalism at UTS, Sydney

Mainstream  journalism has failed the public interest, reckons author, Martin Hirst.  Citizen journalism is too feeble to provide a viable alternative. The future looks grim.

Fortunately,  Dr Hirst believes that pessimism of the intellect should be coupled with optimism of the will.

News 2.0: Can journalism survive the Internet

15 April 2010: The mss is revised, edited, proof-read and with the publisher for typesetting and readying for the printer. The final mss is just under 85,000 words.

I hope it will be available in September.

After the fact:

Monetizing UGNC [April 2010]

Blogging not legally journalism – New Jersey court [April 2010]

[Oct 2009]

The MSS is with the publishers and out for review. All things being equal (which they’re so obviously not) I should know soon what corrections and edits I need to make. It comes in at about 108,000 words and the problem is, of course, that now the book is in production there’s so much going on.

I’ve attempted to keep myself up-to-date by blogging on the issues. Hopefully I will get a chance to make some last minute changes to examples and such, while  ensuring that the core arguments and themes remain viable.

Journalism in the Age of YouTube
I am currently working on a book about journalism today – how blogging, social networking and citizen journalism are changing the way journalism is done, marketed and interpreted.
I have set up a search-engine-wiki (swicki) at Eurekster. You can visit there and see what my searches are throwing up and you can add commentary too.
I’m soliciting comments, advice and tips. All will be gratefully acknowledged.

I’m hoping that my visit to London will furnish the time to get some chapters completed. The journey is certainly helping. I’ve added some links to posts on this page. They relate to topics I’m writing about. Feel free to comment, or send suggestions. Anything that gets used will be acknowledged.

EM

Posts on topic

Journalism and blogging: leave it to the machines?

October 23, 2009

In science and science fiction there’s a moment when it all goes to custard for the human race. It’s the singularity – often defined as the time when machines begin to out think humans.

We’re not there yet and I’m comfortable with predictions that it might happen 200 years after my demise. But you can never really trust futurist predictions.

Barbarians at the gates – Ultimo is smouldering?

Another very good analysis of Mark Scott’s Melbourne Uni speech which I covered yesterday. This from Trevor Cook at Crikey.com

Clueless in Ultimo

In other areas too we may come to see the world of the ‘empowered audience’ as deficient. Comment and opinion are everywhere on media sites these days, but there has been no similar expansion in facts, ideas and analysis, Scott’s much-heralded partnerships with the audience, like the barbarians attacking Rome, may be more suited to producing noise and colour than anything more enduring.

Media empires, the fall of Rome and the digital sublime

But now, anyone can instantly publish on the web. And as long as they have content people want to see and read they will reach millions. The extent of the revolution could not have been seen – the extent of the transformation.

Mark Scott, The Fall of Rome: Media after Empire, 14 October 2009

A nice thought isn’t it? Anyone can now reach an audience of millions if they have content that people want. It’s pleasant to imagine this world; a place free of the media barons, where simple souls like us can wield the once unassailable power of the moguls.

Too bad it’s just a digital myth at this point.

World Media Summit – the future of news is in safe hands…not

OK, so can you tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

Chinese President Hu Jintao (7th L) poses for a group photo with co-chairpersons of the World Media Summit prior to the summit's opening ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, on Oct. 9, 2009. The two-day summit, hosted by Xinhua News Agency, opened here Friday morning. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)Chinese President Hu Jintao (7th L) poses for a group photo with co-chairpersons of the World Media Summit prior to the summit’s opening ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, on Oct. 9, 2009. The two-day summit, hosted by Xinhua News Agency, opened here Friday morning. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

Talk about a nightmare featuring Men In Black. This comes pretty close.

No Future! A pessimistic and money-grubbing view of journalism

The Philistine phase of the digital age is almost over. The aggregators and the plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content. But if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators, the people in this hall, who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph.

Rupert Murdoch, Beijing, October 2009

The writing is on the wall…but actually the content creators were not in Beijing with Rupert Murdoch; they’re scattered across the globe and Murdoch wants their content, he just doesn’t want to pay for it.

We don’t trust the news media – so where’s the news in that?

UMR Research has today [7 October]  released the results of a survey of New Zealanders that show, on the whole, that we don’t trust the news media.

Epic 2015 – what’s beyond the horizon? Posted 12 September. An interview with Matt Thompson, creator of Epic 2014 and Epic 2015 about the future of electronic media.

Journalism of the future – a Missouri perspective Posted 13 September. An overview of some discussions at the Missouri School of Journalism 100th anniversary celebrations.


Oppose far right mobilisations on November 20: Don’t let the fascists control the streets.

November 17, 2021

Despite record numbers of people being vaccinated, and the proven efficacy of vaccines, the Australian anti-vaxxer movement has not gone away. After a series of violent anti-health measure protests in Melbourne in September and October, the anti-vaxxers have continued to hold small rallies and marches, even after most restrictions have been lifted. The anti-vaxxer cause seems to be morphing. While opposition to vaccine mandates is still their central platform, the various factions involved in these mobilisations are now broadening their agenda to encompass a libertarian middle class concern for their so-called rights and freedoms that they supposedly lost during the pandemic.

This is very much aligned to a broader international phenomenon that has seen right-wing extremist political formations infiltrate the anti-vax milieu with explicit far right propaganda and talking points. Globally, we can identify an overlap between the anti-vaxxers and deluded QAnon conspiracists; increasingly, these individuals are being influenced by explicitly fascist sects such as the Proud Boys and other Nazi-adjacent gangs.

This is obvious in the supposedly secret chatrooms the fascists and the antivaxxers inhabit on Telegram, Gab, and Discord. In one recent chat, a Melbourne woman introduced quotes from Hitler into a discussion of the anti-vax protest movement and received several approving comments. The fascist threat in Australia is currently small, but the Nazi-aligned groups have latched onto the anti-vax movement, and they see it as a fertile recruitment ground.

Therefore, we must take the far right seriously. They are fed on a constant diet of misinformation about COVID, about the vaccines, and about a conspiracy of shadowy political forces using the pandemic as a cover for the real agenda: to somehow dismantle individual freedoms by making everyone wear masks and be injected with unknown substances to control their minds and actions.

This is complete nonsense: it is both unscientific with regards to the virus and the vaccine, and it is ideological nonsense because the capitalist state—as bad as it is—is not yet ready to abandon the cloak of electoral democracy to impose a dictatorship.

Ironically, it is the fascist wannabees at the core of the anti-vax movement itself that have such authoritarian tendencies. This is becoming more open and explicit, even as it shelters under the false flag of freedom. There is only a small gap between believing in shadowy conspiracy theories and being convinced by the anti-Semitic lie that vaccines are part of a Jewish plot to enslave the world. The fascists understand they need to broach the “J question” carefully, but they are using the cover of the anti-vax movement to introduce people to their racist ideas.

Alongside explicit fascist elements, the November 20 “freedom” rally organisers include the hard right group Reignite Democracy Australia (RDA) which has recently announced a merger with Craig Kelly and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP). This is an opportunistic electoral alliance, but it is a good fit for the far right because Craig Kelly continues to push Ivermectin (horse deworming paste) as a cure for COVID and this resonates with the anti-vaxxers.

As I have previously written, this coalition of crazies will boost the UAP’s electoral prospects. The anti-vaxxer and false freedom crowd are a Trojan horse for the right-wing electoral politics of Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly. The UAP is opposed to action on climate change and supports the expansion of Australia’s coal mining industry because that’s how Clive Palmer got his filthy riches. Craig Kelly is a homophobic and racist bigot: he voted against marriage equality and supports the Morrison government every step of the way. We know that the UAP will preference the coalition and so supporting this mob is ultimately a vote for Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce. Worse than this—as bad as another Morrison term would be—is that electoral success will allow the UAP/RDA group to claim a victory, and this will help them grow. This will strengthen the far right and provide more potential recruits for the fascists.

This reason alone should be enough for anybody concerned about Australia’s future ability to resist the rise of fascist violence to come to the counter-rally. However, if you need further convincing, here’s CARF’s top 10 reasons why we need to be there and bring ourfriends.

  1. We can’t let the far right normalise the idea of mass death due to covid! 

The size and scale of the anti-vaccine and COVID denying rallies are a significant leap forward for the forces opposed to essential health measures. Their efforts are helping to normalise a situation where we all accept mass deaths due to COVID for the sake of some misguided sense of individual freedom. The pandemic has shown us otherwise, that in fact we are all connected and that it is necessary for us to collectively participate in public health measures to free ourselves from the impacts of the virus.

  1. We need to make it clear that these demonstrations involve dangerous far right and fascist forces! 

It is important to counter demonstrate and to explain to a wider audience that these mobilisations involve a variety of far-right and fascist forces. In Melbourne one of the most prominent known figures has been AVI Yemeni, the self-declared “biggest Jewish Nazi in the world.” Other figures include Harrison McClean who is well known for his antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

  1. Far right politics should be opposed through protest!

We need to counter-mobilise to discredit conspiratorial anti-vax ideas, highlight the involvement of the far-right, and put forward our own arguments: that vaccines are about social solidarity, and covid-19 is a serious threat to people’s health and lives. We need to counter them in numbers and energy, and argue their ideas are grossly wrong and extremely right wing. 

  1. We cannot let the far right grow! 

The far right and fascists have mobilized around the issue of opposing vaccines and health measures to recuperate their forces here in Melbourne and worldwide. They’re using these protests as a chance to grow and organise themselves. This is a dangerous development and ignoring them will not make them go away. If we want to make sure that these forces can’t grow we need to highlight their politics for what they really are, and show them that the majority of public opinion is against them.

  1. It is important to break the vaccine hesitant from the serious COVID deniers and the fascists. 

Not only have previous anti-vaccine demonstrations bolstered ideas hostile to social solidarity, but they have opened yet another opportunity for hardened far-right and fascist organisations to capitalise on the fears and anxiety provoked by misinformation and hostile media reporting of public health measures. These demonstrations only offer fertile soil for them to pedal their bigoted conspiracy theories amongst a crowd open to these ideas. However, as most of the rally goers are not fascists themselves, they can be broken away if confronted and made aware of the sort of fascistic company they’re keeping. We need to counter-mobilise to discredit their ideas, disrupt the far-right’s ability to recruit and publicly push for a pro-health agenda. 

  1. Vaccines and masks are a health and safety issue

Workers need to take vaccines and masks seriously to keep themselves safe at work. Selfish anti-vaxxers put themselves and their workmates at risk of infection, or worse. The far right is hostile to trade unions and workers’ organisations because they support capitalism—the Proud Boys even make this explicit in their propaganda—and therefore we have to insist that workers have the right, and the responsibility, to protect themselves by being vaccinated and wearing a mask when appropriate.

The pandemic is a union issue, and one that the workers’ movement more broadly must address. Capitalism doesn’t care about workers’ health because it puts profits above saving lives. We need to mobilise to counter this anti-worker and anti-human rhetoric and to encourage the trade union movement to take up the fight for COVID-safe workplaces.

  1. Show solidarity with healthcare workers!

Health care workers are on the frontline in the effort to keep all of us safe. Not only do doctors and nurses work tirelessly at testing and vaccination sites, they also staff the ICU wards where many COVID patients end up. We have already seen anti-vax protestors attacking health workers in other parts of the world and these dangerous far right mobilisations will encourage similar outrages in Australia.

  1. Solidarity with teachers: Schools are not yet safe

We know that children are at risk of both infection from and transmitting the COVID virus. There is ample evidence from international studies that schools are likely to be sites of infection and transmission. This puts students, teachers, and families at risk. We are campaigning for safety measures in schools and supporting teachers who want to take action to highlight their concerns about returning to work while it is not safe to do so. We acknowledge the difficulties that parents face with learning from home, but this requires the proper support measures from governments, not blanket orders that schools re-open without adequate safety protocols in place.

  1. COVID-19 is a virus caused by Capitalism

The ultimate cause of the pandemic is global capitalism. The virus spread from the wild because of food scarcity in China forcing people to kill and eat animals already at risk because of encroachments on their habitat for farming, logging and extractive industries. The spread of the virus around the world was also facilitated by global travel that was not properly or quickly regulated to prevent cross-border infection.

Infections could have been quickly brought under control in many places if governments had acted faster with public health measures. The hesitancy to do this was the result of pressure from business leaders who were more concerned about how profits would be affected by an economic slowdown.  This is well-documented in Australia. The failure to prevent the Ruby Princess cruise ship from discharging infected passengers in Sydney led to the first big national outbreak. The Morrison government refused to act quickly with purpose-built quarantine facilities, and this allowed the virus to escape again from so-called ‘hotel quarantine’. The government was forced to introduce Jobkeeper only after it was embarrassed by the ACTU and the scheme was ended prematurely which led to thousands of people being left without income for many months. The pressure to reopen the economy while the virus is still at large and not under control is also driven by the demands of the bosses. It is workers who will pay for the ultimate cost.

  1. Who’s streets? Our streets

We need to mobilise on November 20 to protest against the far right and to show that there is opposition to their false promise of freedom and their anti-science conspiracy theories. In addition, progressive forces need to return to the streets to reconnect with supporters and rebuilt lost momentum. The political and economic crises that mark the period of capitalist decline were not put on pause during the pandemic. 

Attacks on working class organisations continue; wages and conditions are still under threat as the capitalist class seeks to claw back its lost profits and margins. The global recession is not over and this has led to an increase in imperialist tensions between the USA and China. Australia is caught up in this new cold war. The COP26 climate conference has done nothing to save the planet from global warming; instead, it has merely launched a corporate greenwashing exercise based on meaningless slogans such as “zero emissions by 2050”.

As the pandemic recedes from public consciousness, the left will need to reclaim the streets and rebuild to once again bring 10s of 1000s of people onto the street to demand action to halt the climate emergency, to say “No war with China,” and to fight for workers’ rights.

Stopping the far-right and fascists is just the first step.