Menzies would be turning in his grave, Chris Kenny rails – as News Corp turns against him on climate

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<span>Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA</span>
Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

News Corp’s old guard of conservative columnists is not taking Scott Morrison’s push for net zero by 2050 very well.

Chris Kenny claimed in the Weekend Australian that the founder of the Liberal party, Robert Menzies, would be “turning in his grave” as “mainstream people” are abandoned by the political class and we become “a cleft nation”.

“Never in peacetime have we seen such government dependency, expansion of government power, nor such submission from individuals,” Kenny railed after his own company ramped up its net zero climate campaign in step with the prime minister. Everyone was against him, even “major media organisations”. Kenny’s company was backflipping on its pattern of climate science denial and ridicule towards climate action and he was all alone.

Related: News Corp is going ‘only positive’ on climate but did Gina Rinehart miss the memo? | The Weekly Beast

“As the capital markets, industry superannuation funds, financial institutions, large corpor­ations, major unions, left-of-centre parties, environmental groups, multilateral global institutions, and major media organisations all push in one direction, who is standing up for the individual?” he asked. “It should be the Liberals and Nationals – it is their raison d’etre.”

The Australian’s foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, was equally distraught. “Net-zero emissions is essentially a fraudulent concept that can never be realised in the real world,” he wrote. “At its most benign, it works as a rallying cry for greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and further efforts to clean up the environment.”

Bolt’s tirade against Forrest

It was of course Murdoch’s most popular columnist and Sky News host Andrew Bolt who went one step further, launching a tirade against the businessman Andrew Forrest in a way that only Bolt could.

“Beware of hot air from global warming profiteers,” the headline to his column read on Thursday.

Forrest has, of course praised News Corp’s Mission Zero project, which Bolt has gone out of his way to condemn.

“Believe me, if Forrest is selling you a ‘clean energy’ future, hold on to your wallet,” he wrote. “That’s because Forrest seems to me to be one of those billionaires who can’t tell the difference between what’s good for him and what’s good for the country.”

We asked Forrest what he thought of Bolt’s attack and whether he had complained but received no reply.

Icac divides newsroom

The Australian’s NSW political reporter Yoni Bashan wrote a powerful analysis of evidence heard by the Independent Commission Against Corruption this week.

“The shattering force of Mike Baird’s evidence to a NSW ­corruption inquiry on Wednesday effectively ends any pretence that Gladys Berejiklian might emerge unscathed and vindicated at the conclusion of the public hearings,” Bashan wrote.

“It should also rightfully end the ludicrous attacks recently waged against the Independent Commission Against Corruption for daring to pursue this investigation, which mere days into its two-week sitting has already unearthed troubling findings.”

Bashan’s take differed dramatically from those of some of his newsroom colleagues, who expressed their dismay when the popular NSW premier resigned.

The investigations editor, Sharri Markson, said Icac was not there to clean up corruption but to cut “short the tenure of politicians in their prime who later turn out to be innocent” and to rob “the people of a popular premier at a time of crisis and uncertainty”.

The Oz’s eminence grise Paul Kelly was also at odds with Bashan, writing earlier that the removal of Berijiklian was a disaster for Morrison as she was “his only real anchor among premiers to combat the deadly Labor troika of Andrews, Palaszczuk and McGowan with their ability to ruin him”.

But it was left up to the former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson to deliver the worst take on Icac, saying the state doesn’t need an independent body because it has the police.

“We have police to investigate any alleged wrongdoing and we don’t need to create new bodies with the express purpose of usurping that power,” Richo wrote.

AFR quiet on Goward’s ‘proles’

The Australian Financial Review’s editor-in-chief, Michael Stutchbury, maintained his silence on his decision to publish a highly offensive column by the former Liberal politician Pru Goward this week, which was condemned as disturbing, abusive and inaccurate by anti-poverty advocates. But he did publish one critical letter from a reader, which is better than nothing.

“The fact that Pru Goward’s article (‘We underestimate the underclass’, Opinion, October 20) was published is an insult to fair-minded and clear-thinking Australians with even an ounce of compassion,” Jeni Bone Robina wrote.

Related: Gaven Morris signing off: ABC news chief’s parting words to staff and ‘small media’ rivals | Weekly Beast

“Goward forgets or never comprehended we are all descended from decent ‘proles’ (how dare she!) and are just a pandemic or a missed pay cheque from requiring the social security net that should be considered the right of all Australians.”

Stutchbury is clearly an admirer of the former NSW families minister, inviting Goward to judge the annual 10 most powerful people in Australia last month.

Sparring Maiden and Wilkinson up for Walkleys

The Walkley nominations are in and, as expected, they are dominated by stories about the treatment of women in the corridors of power.

It was always going to be a tough choice between Samantha Maiden and Lisa Wilkinson, who were both first with the Brittany Higgins story, albeit in different media: Maiden for and Wilkinson for Ten’s The Project.

But the Walkleys solved the dilemma of pitting them against each other by nominating them in different categories. Maiden and the team were nominated for scoop of the year for Open Secret: The Brittany Higgins story, alongside Louise Milligan for The Canberra Bubble and 7.30’s Laura Tingle for commentary.

Related: Jessica Rowe podcast turns sour over Pauline Hanson interview on ‘why she keeps going’ | The Weekly Beast

Wilkinson got a nod in the public service journalism category for her Project interview and commentary about the Higgins issue.

But just before nominations were announced the subject of the story, the former Liberal staffer Higgins, expressed her support for team Wilkinson after Maiden broke a story on that poked holes in Wilkinson’s account of her pay dispute with Nine, which led to her quitting the Today show and join The Project.

Higgins has since said she regrets criticising Maiden, who she once said was her “hero”.

No Speers, no nominations

Noticeably absent from the Walkley nominations this year is Sky News Australia which unlike ABC, SBS, Seven, Nine, 10, NITV and Al Jazeera, had not a single nomination. Perhaps it’s the David Speers effect. Speers was the network’s shining star, winning two Walkleys for his interviewing skills before walking away to join the ABC’s Insiders. Sky News famously won a Walkley in 2016 for its election coverage, which meant handing an award for journalism to Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin.

The Conversation takes on Facebook

Despite promises that everyone who is eligible will get a deal under the news media bargaining code, Facebook has refused to negotiate with the Conversation, which did strike a deal with Google.

The academic website has launched a petition – using the same mechanism as Kevin Rudd did to call for a royal commission – asking parliament “to request that treasurer Josh Frydenberg ‘designate’ Facebook under the News Media Bargaining Code to force Facebook to negotiate payment for all publishers who genuinely serve the public interest”.

The Conversation told its readers on Thursday that Facebook had refused to negotiate with it, and asked them to sign the petition. “Without providing a reason, Facebook declined to negotiate with The Conversation and SBS, and many other quality media companies eligible under the Code,” said its editor, Misha Ketchell.

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