The XRSA Political Strategy Circle has made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into media diversity in Australia.

Extinction Rebellion is a non-partisan international movement that uses non-violent direct action to demand that governments act on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Extinction Rebellion makes three key demands:

  1. The Government must tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency and work with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. The Government must mobilise for the scale of this catastrophe, reduce consumption levels and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025.
  3. We need a citizen’s assembly to over see this process and ensure that it is not undermined by vested interests. All parts of society – rich and poor, young and old – must be represented in the assembly to ensure a fair societal transition.

As our planet heats above pre-industrial levels, mass extinctions of flora and fauna and fresh water loss accelerate at a rate unprecedented in human history. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events increases. Our opportunity to mitigate the worst effects of the climate catastrophe and biodiversity crisis erodes daily. Meanwhile, vested interests run the largest disinformation campaign in media history.

The severity, impact, and causes of these crises – as well as potential solutions or means of mitigation – is withheld from the Australian people who rely on the mainstream media to communicate critical matters of public interest. Instead, News Corp fans the flames of denialism, despite scientific consensus that the climate crisis poses an existential threat to humanity. The equally catastrophic biodiversity crisis is ignored entirely. Sky News in particular is brazen in its attack on the legitimacy of the climate crisis, which it referred to as “global warming hysteria”. Such denialism has a corrosive effect on public discourse, and it encourages polarisation on matters of physics already decided by science.

A free and open media is fundamental to democracy. The purpose of the media is to provide accurate, reliable information to the public. The public relies on the media to hold those with power to account by shining a light on what they do in the dark. The advent and explosion of internet news media, the concentration of power in the hands of a few media owners and the collusion of the media with other big business and with Government has fundamentally undermined and subverted democracy in this country. Rather than educate and inform, the media is being used by oligarchs to divert, distract and entertain the public. These oligarchs enjoy unmitigated power and exert control for the purpose of serving their own economic wealth and power. As a consequence of this situation both here and abroad, global democracy is in its 14th consecutive year of decline (Freedom House). Meanwhile, the existential threat of the climate crisis worsens while the media continues to downplay its significance.

In 2019, the CIVICUS Monitor downgraded Australia’s democratic status from “open” to “narrowed”. This was due to the police raids on media outlets, increasing crackdown on peaceful protest, plans to expand state surveillance, and the growing trend of prosecuting whistleblowers for exposing government wrongdoing. The media’s failure to adequately focus on these matters and its failure to communicate the seriousness of the state of democracy and the planet is critical. As oligarchs continue to subvert the media, the decline of democracy only steepens.

Economic incentives underpin News Corp’s position of climate denialism. It is well established that News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch allied himself with fossil fuel interests globally via the American Australian Association, and Genie Oil and Gas. Murdoch serves these entities and himself; not the Australian people. The economic will of the billionaire class cannot be reconciled with the interests of the Australian people. As long as billionaires dictate what is fed to the public, we cannot confront the climate catastrophe and its root causes. Effective action is rendered only more difficult as time passes and inequality swells.

Additionally, the Murdoch media accepts advertising money from giant corporations such as Harvey Norman, Bunnings, Amazon, Woodside, Origin, Telstra, Commbank, Westpac, KFC, Coles, and Woolworths. The damage perpetuated by hyperconsumption and reliance on fossil fuels kills us and poisons the earth. All advertising from these companies and the fossil fuel industry must cease. It serves only to line the pockets of billionaires while the interests of the population as a whole are not being represented and our planet is dying.

By allowing the Murdoch media to exert power unchecked, the Government is complicit in denying the public accurate and reliable information. The Australian Government must not allow Australia to succumb to external interests. The Government must defend Australia from gross interference with its democratic processes.

We call upon the Senate to protect the interests of the Australian people and observe its obligations by establishing an independent Royal Commission to fully investigate abuses of media power.

We call upon the Australian people and the Government to confront the climate and ecological crisis and take immediate action to limit its accelerating and devastating effects.

We call upon the Government to Free the Truth.

Extinction Rebellion South Australia