Why I’m not entering the Walkleys this year

The Saturday Paper 12 August 2023

Before I start ranting, I miss my blog, so here I am blogging. Hello everyone.

Did you know that the Walkley Awards were started by Ampol Petroleum founder Sir William Gaston Walkley in 1956? I must admit until this year I didn’t know this. My fault, it’s on the Walkleys website after all. I had a vague idea it might have had something to do with Johnny Walker whisky but no.

I found out about it when I read this piece by Belinda Noble in Mumbrella. The guts of it is that Ampol, a well known fossil fuel company, is a sponsor of the Walkleys and in other events there was a revamp of the awards categories recently to make them more in line with modern times and while there was a call for climate reporting to have its own award category, it didn’t make the cut.

With the degradation of the environment being the greatest scientific, economic, and moral issue of our time, this seems like a missed opportunity, and to put it bluntly, with fossil fuels being in the vanguard of the problem and a fossil fuel company being a major sponsor of the awards, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if there might be a causal link there. Whether there is or not, and I’m a cartoonist not an investigative journalist so who can say, it looks bad.

I’m not going to re-litigate all of climate science here, but if you’re reasonably well informed and not a complete dill, you must have an inkling that any fossil fuel company that actually gave the slightest damn about the future of the planet would be doing their level best to put themselves out of business as quickly as possible. As we all know, giant multinationals famously only give a damn about the future of their bottom line. This is not a moral judgement, corporations are simply tools for making money and a company that makes a great deal of money trading in fossil fuels is not, I suggest, going to be terribly interested in stopping, in fact as has been evident so far, they’re going to need to be dragged kicking and screaming into even slowing down a bit.

The Saturday Paper 23 July 2022

Sure, some might argue that the collapse of civilisation and possible extinction of the species is going to cause a bit of red ink on the balance sheet, but that’s where socialising the losses comes in. The strategy has been straight from the tobacco industry playbook of denial, distraction and delay, influence peddling with government and the media. The Australian Cartoon Association had quite the barney when tobacco company Rothmans sponsored their Stanley Awards the Rothmans National Cartoon Awards (thanks to sharp-eyed reader Peter Broelman for correcting me on this) in the early nineties. I am baffled as to why there hasn’t been something similarly as heated about the Walkleys and Ampol.

I know that Australia is a very small place and only the impotent are pure etc, but climate change is an actual existential crisis and the media have to play their part and ruthlessly interrogate why the hell real cuts to fossil fuel use aren’t happening urgently. I’m not talking about the various bullshit schemes like carbon credits or carbon capture and storage (except to point out they are also blatant greenwashing and delaying tactics). I’m talking about actively transitioning to renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuel extraction like our lives depend on it (they actually do).

The Saturday Paper 27 August 2022

The reason Sir William kicked off the Walkleys in the first place is influence peddling. People correctly raise an eyebrow at politicians accepting little presents from vested interests or in fact wearing their sponsor’s logo on their hi-vis vests, and they should bloody well be wondering what the media are doing taking money from a fossil fuel company when we should be asking questions every single day about what the hell they think they’re doing still digging up fossil fuels at a furious rate when we’ve known for decades there’s going to be hell to pay.

The Saturday Paper 27 June 2020

None of this is in any way compatible with having the media awards sponsored by Ampol in 2023. That’s all that really needs saying, in fact it should go without saying, but the amount of spin and bullshit and interference from vested interests and their bought and paid for shills means the bleeding obvious needs to be explained repeatedly and at great and painful length. Whether this sponsorship influences journos or not, people seeing a bunch of allegedly well informed media types hobnobbing on a fossil fuel company’s dime makes people think well they must think this isn’t so bad so maybe it isn’t (spoiler alert: it is).

The upshot is I’m not entering the Walkleys which is, to be fair, the absolute least I could do, but we all need to at least start doing the very least we could do if we’re going to turn the current rolling disaster around. It is a vanishingly small thing, and I am struggling to understand why there hasn’t been a bigger stink about it. The media needs to stop being so very bloody cosy with this sort of stuff. It is, quite frankly, a bit shit.

Anyway, for the record, I probably would have entered the cartoon below. It’s about the government’s great deal of sound and fury whilst inadequately addressing the housing crisis and leaving welfare below the poverty line even though they could choose not to, but the approach is easily mapped on to their approach to climate as well.

The Saturday Paper 6 May 2023

Posted in News.


  1. Jon, well done. I hope we haven’t left it all too late to correct, although I fear we might have done so. I’m an 83-y.o. who majored in maths, science and English on the way to degrees in engineering, and a member of the three generations who knew what we were doing to our one and only home planet… but went on and did it anyway. We must now hope, for their sake, the children of today have the wisdom and the desire to reverse many of our errors in saving Earth for their own and other future generations. In the meantime, keep shoving it up the nostrils – or whatever available orifice – of government, business and bureaucracy. Thank you.

  2. Thanks Jon. Your comments are always welcome, it’s a pity more people don’t see it they way you do….

  3. I never won a Walkley but now I’m glad. The Journalists Union the MEAA has to find another sponsor and chuck Ampol out.

  4. Fossil fuels scorn notoriety
    They own our leaders entirely
    To forestall certain doom
    We need a new broom
    To save what is left of society

  5. I fully support your ambition to start “real cuts to fossil fuel use” by not driving a car, using public transport, or cooling your home with gas generated electricity ever again. And of course, never wearing any polyester clothing.
    The industry provides a product that is demanded by the public.

  6. Hi Jeff, good to see you’ve moved on to acknowledging that climate change exists, but your divide and conquer fossil fuel propaganda is still a little out of date.

    Humankind has invented this marvellous apparatus called “government” to implement systemic changes so that the law of the jungle doesn’t prevail. Sadly vested interests try to stop or at least slow these systemic changes which would help everyone because they impact their bottom line. One of the main ways of doing this is through propaganda where the responsibility for change is placed onto the individual which of course makes change impossible! Job done!

    Naturally getting the media onside is vital to spread propaganda effectively, which brings us right around to why I’m uncomfortable with the media awards being sponsored by a fossil fuel company.

    The only way we can start cutting emissions is in a systematic way, providing individuals with alternatives to fossil fuels. This is a well established idea, though you’d hope most people educated past kindergarten level ought to be able to get their heads around it without needing it spelled out, at least when the influence of propaganda is removed.

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