The ABC television program Four Corners promotes itself as “investigative TV journalism at its best”. It certainly has a reputation, and an ability to get its programs talked about even before they have been shown.
I usually play tennis on a Monday night, but I will have to see if I can get out of this commitment so I can watch the program.
The preamble at the Four Corners website suggests a conspiracy is about to be uncovered, with comment including:
“Are Australians getting the whole truth on global warming?
Not according to evidence given to Four Corners, which returns with disturbing allegations about the power wielded by industry lobbyists, the self-proclaimed greenhouse “mafia”.
A whistleblower steps forward with claims that industry representatives have burrowed deep inside the federal bureaucracy in a successful bid to hijack greenhouse policy.
“Their influence over greenhouse policy in Australia is extraordinary”, he observes.“
Science in Australia has certainly become very politicised.
In my experience it is usually the ‘environment industry’ pulling the strings; click here for something of a review by Prof Bob Carter.
I received the following note from a government scientists recently on an issue unrelated to greenhouse:
“Most would not understand how much control over scientists there is.
When …[information deleted so scientists can not be identified]… they were “directed” from on high in overall scope. Comments at press conferences are rehearsed. Between the Minister’s Office and the operational senior scientist … [chain of command]… then to Deputy Director General, across to a policy group, then Public Affairs (press and spin), then the Minister’s minders, then the Minister and maybe Premier. If its hot maybe through [another Department mentioned here] and Premiers. Perhaps shot at by [another government department] in counter move by them. Briefs and public statements are written and rewritten. Some might argue it’s about responsibility and quality control – but it often becomes sinister.“
There is a real need for much more openness. Government scientists must be free to put the evidence and argue their case. Policy on environmental issues should be informed by the best science.
But I am wary of tonight’s program.
I do hope it is not just another industry bashing exercise. Their journalist Ticky Fullerton got it wrong on the Murray River and certainly botched the program on Tasmanian forestry; click here for my blog on ‘the forestry job’ and this article by Christian Kerr from Crikey on Four Corners titled the ABC’s Paralysis on Bias is a good read.