Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison pulled out a lump of coal in parliament on February 9 and launched a rant in which he accused the opposition of “coal-o-phobia” and regurgitated PM Malcolm Turnbull's outrageous National Press Club speech urging more coal-fired power stations be built.
Morrison went wild while behind him other Liberals and Nationals joined in a pantomime by passing the lump of coal to each other.
In a scathing post in DesMogBlog about this parliamentary stunt, Graham Readfearn compared Morrison's coal-carrying antics to when Republican Senator James Inhofe took a snowball into the US Senate to argue that because it was snowing outside, it proved that global warming was not real.
Perversely, Morrison's stunt was carried out while the eastern half of Australia was bracing for a heatwave that broke temperature records. Scores of homes have been lost in bushfires in NSW and the town of Uarbry has been all but wiped out.
Surely the utter madness of his back-to-coal rant would stand out like a dunny in a desert?
However, we shouldn't be expecting logic when the real purpose of these hysterical parliamentary melodramas is classic conjuror's misdirection, the very purpose of which is to convince the public to suspend logic.
The simplest form of misdirection is physical, for example, directing the audience to look in a certain direction or at something else and thereby missing what the conjuror is really up to.
But more sophisticated misdirection involves influencing the thinking of the audience by framing their thoughts or manipulating their expectations, interests or feelings. This is what politicians like Morrison are trying to do.
Their objective is to get the public to believe the exact opposite of what is true and as their lies grow ever more bold, they require loads of theatrical misdirection.
US President Donald “fake-hair-fake-news-alternative-facts” Trump may be the epitome of this kind of politician but Australian politicians are in a race to catch up. Trump appears to have successfully misdirected — at least for a while — millions of Americans into thinking that the “solution” to their pain from a world decimated by billionaire greed is to make one of their greediest billionaires president, one who even has gold taps in the toilet in his private jet!
They will have to act up a storm because the contradictions they have to straddle are mounting.
Inequality is rising and yet they have to justify giving more tax cuts to their corporate mates and the super rich.
Housing has become unaffordable in the major cities and yet they have to justify tax concessions for landlords and subsidies and deregulation for big developers.
Climate change is becoming catastrophic and yet they want to stop the development of renewable energy and continue using coal. The ugly list goes on.
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