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The reporting of Kevin Rudd’s climate speech demonstrated the failings of the news media, writes Geoffrey Barker in Inside Story

IS IT POSSIBLE to have an informed rational debate about climate change in an age of ever-churning news cycles? The question is unavoidable after the media treatment given to a key speech on climate change given last Friday by Kevin Rudd at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Mr Rudd’s speech was a complex and comprehensive statement of government policy on climate change. It combined political polemics, scientific argument and policy prescription. It was a speech that demanded to be taken seriously by the media and by supporters and opponents of Rudd’s climate change policy.

Yet it suffered an ignominious fate from the moment it became public, and already it seems to have been forgotten in the onward rush of “news.” What might reasonably have been treated as a serious contribution to the debate over the potentially existential threat of climate change was given extremely short shrift in the media and then flicked to oblivion.

Here, briefly, is the sequence. Mr Rudd’s speech to the Lowy Institute was originally advertised as an address on “Australia, the region and the world: the challenges ahead.” Perhaps not surprisingly, he decided to deliver a speech on climate change, noting that a Senate vote on the government’s cap and trade scheme was only twenty days away and the Copenhagen conference only a month off...

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