The Government is Gaslighting the Reef

photo of sea turtle

Save the Reef

Gaslighting is a term that is used to describe behaviour used by one person to make another doubt their own sense of reality. Although it was coined as early as 1936 in a play called Gas Light where a husband used systemic, psychological manipulation on his wife to convince her and others that she was insane, it has come into regular use now because of a couple of different trends.(Thanks Wikipedia).

We hear the word a lot nowadays to describe political campaigning and also around the debate on coercive control as a form of domestic violence. It is a term that although used to describe the behaviour of politicians like Bill Clinton, and of Vladimir Putin, it is a term most commonly associated with Donald Trump.

All politicians use gaslighting as a political tool. Some are highly skilled at it. All politicians want us to believe in them and their policies. But it does rely on a few things to be successful.

The main one is a disengaged electorate. People often say to me that for more people to be engaged in politics the education system needs to improve its teaching of whatever we are talking about at the time. But I believe that the education system does a good job. There is nothing really wrong with the way they teach civics and the like in our schools.

But people who engage in politics do not seem to recognise that just not everyone is interested as them. There are whole lots of people who are so involved in living their own lives they just want to hear or read the news and that’s where their level of engagement is at. And there is nothing wrong with that. The political system in Australia is complex. There are three levels of government, two houses in some state and not others, two house in the Federal system. There are multiple voting systems which apply and different government are responsible for different things except when they are not. It can be horribly confusing for an initiate let along a novice.

The secret to gaslighting is to state your position early and often and with lots of confusing “facts”. So that anybody trying to argue with you has to first deal with all the confusing “facts”. Of course the best gas lighters just lie. They take a statement with just a grain of truth in it and turn everything on that one inconsequential grain. The media buy into it because even if you know the facts are you going to call a politician a liar to their face.

This is precisely what the government has done with the UNESCO deliberations about putting the Great Barrier Reef on the in danger list.

The Government insists that everything is hunky dory and no government has invested more in time and resources to protect the Great Barrier Reef. This is the great big lie. The lie that is so big people who are just listening to politics as it goes by them on the radio or the TV hear first. Nobody says it a lie and would a government really lie about something so important? And we are talking about a committee of an UN body and a Chinese person chairs that committee. So it must be true. Its a conspiracy.

But its not true. None of it. There have been multiple reports and research projects into the reef, some done by the federal government that says the reef is in a poor or very poor state. UNESCO may have listed the reef in danger in 2016, but for some last minute lobbying by Australia and a promise to do better in future.

This is an extract from the cover page the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority sent to Susan Ley, Minster for the Environment with their 2019 Report on the Health of the Reef.

“While the Great Barrier Reef is retaining its outstanding universal value as a World Heritage Area, its integrity is being increasingly challenged. Cumulative pressures, predominantly from climate change, combined with the time required for the recovery of key habitats, species and ecosystem processes, have caused the continued deterioration of the overall health of the Great Barrier Reef. The accumulation of impacts, through time and over an increasing area, is reducing its ability to recover from disturbances, with implications for Reef-dependent communities and industries.

Even with the recent management initiatives to reduce threats and improve resilience, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is very poor.

These findings will be best addressed through timely and coordinated action across governments, industries and the community to address climate change, improve water quality and strengthen effective on-ground management actions.

The reality is that the government knows about the damage that is being done to the reef. It knows climate change is the single biggest threat to the continued existence of the reef. And what are they doing? It was even tabled in the House of Representatives. So all MP’s should know.

They are Gaslighting the Reef

photo of sea turtle
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on

3 thoughts on “The Government is Gaslighting the Reef

  1. I know many, and probably most, politicians use gaslighting as a political tool, but I’m not so sure about “all.” Regardless of that, and even with any real or future improvements, I don’t think we can ever afford to relax when it comes to the condition of our precious planet earth.

    1. I might have been a little bit eager to tar all politicians with them same brush. However, I’ve worked with a few and seen many more up close and it has always amazed me that they can change direction with not a backwards look. And that’s as true of the one’s I liked.Let’s hope they can do it with Climate Change.

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