Don’t mention the warming15 May 2012
The Gillard Labor Government’s stupidity has reached a new low. They have released a new set of climate change ads… which fail to mention climate change. Instead they tell us about the Government’s “Household Assistance Package”:
Assistance for what, you could be forgiven for asking? You wouldn’t know it, but in fact the ad is referring to household compensation for a $23 per tonne carbon price which will come into effect in July.
The Sydney Morning Herald described it as a “hard sell”, in which case I’d like to see what a soft sell would look like. The ads explain that money will appear in Australians’ bank accounts, as if we wouldn’t notice it otherwise. They are run not by the Department of Climate Change but by the Department of Families and Community Services, and do not contain the words “climate”, “warming”, “greenhouse”, “carbon”, “pollution”, “fossil fuel”, “renewable”, “carbon price”, “carbon tax”, or “clean energy”. This is reportedly because focus groups concluded the word “carbon” turned off voters – but how do they know it’s the word turning people off, and not the way they’re using it?
I cannot overstate the irresponsibility of ignoring climate change. Global warming is not just another issue; it is an urgent threat to human civilization. And a recent overseas study concluded “media coverage of climate change and elite cues from politicians and advocacy groups are among the most prominent drivers of the [US] public perception of the threat associated with climate change”. A government who fails to talk about the scientific basis for action on climate change is implicitly telling the public it is not a serious problem.
The Government is also shooting itself in the foot: how can you sell a policy without mentioning its fundamental reason for being? Voters reasonably suspect compensation will counteract the very purpose of the policy. By not mentioning climate, the Government is allowing the Opposition to frame the issue. The Liberal Party, whose headline policy is to repeal the carbon tax, will continue talking about it whatever the Government says. They have already described the ads as a “con” for advertising compensation without saying what it’s for.
In one way I agree with the Liberals: these ads are a waste of $14 million. The Government should tell its market researchers to get lost, and write a new ad which explains we are facing a global climate crisis which requires urgent action.