Picture: A fossil fueled daily driver. Not all cartoonists are woke

Is there anything more laughable than pointless virtue-signalling on an industrial scale?

It’s even more hilarious when that virtue is led by a gaggle of clueless cartoonists, collectively clutching their pearls in a public showcasing of much ado about nothing.

This left clique of ‘socially aware’ cartoonists who are entirely unaware, have decided to boycott the journalism prize – The Walkley Awards.

The Walkleys were created in 1956 by Sir William Walkley, the founder of the Ampol oil company.

The boycott started when extreme leftist cartoonist, Jon Kudelka, was first to signal his supreme virtue in a blog post.

His post is riddled with falsehoods, some which could indeed be actionable, but don’t let facts get in the way of contrived moral goodness.

Kudelka states in his blog post:

Why I’m not entering the Walkleys this year

Posted on August 30, 2023

“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.

“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. 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).

“None of this is in any way compatible with having the media awards sponsored by Ampol in 2023.”

(end excerpt)

Since that post, a pile of cartoonists are falling over one another to jump on the #MeTooVirtuous movement to also boycott the awards show, leaving the cartooning category entry field open to sensible cartoonists.

Whoopsie. Own goal.

But, really. Fancy boycotting an award based entirely on an uninformed premise?

It takes only a minute of online searching to find Ampol’s renewable energy transition policy, which quickly renders this pointless boycott as futile, self-flagellation, exposing the entire exercise as another example of nothing less than en-masse moral vanity.

But is anybody really surprised?

It’s not really about facts or the argument. It’s about who can signal their virtue the loudest – “Look at me. I’m more progressive, with more hurt feelings, than you!”

A few facts would not go astray.

Ampol’s Future Energy Strategy is publicly available to anybody who bothers to look.

Ampol clearly spells out its transition to net zero operations by 2040 – within 17 years.

“A Future Energy Strategy has been developed which has identified opportunities in electrification, hydrogen and other new products and solutions. An investment target has been set to a minimum $100m spend to 2025.

The policy further clearly clarifies.

“We recognise that energy transition is underway, presenting an opportunity for the business to evolve with our customers as their energy needs change.

We have become founding members of the Australian Climate Leaders Coalition, advocating for a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

We have set an ambition to reach net zero emissions on an absolute basis across operations by 2040 with operational emissions reduction targets consistent with this objective for 2025 and 2030.

By 2025

Fuels and Infrastructure – Reduce operational emissions intensity by 5% from 2021 levels.

Convenience Retail – Reduce operational emissions on an absolute basis by 25% from 2021 levels.

Renewable energy – Commit to 40% equivalent net renewable electricity for operational use.

By 2030

Fuels and Infrastructure – Reduce operational emissions intensity** by 10% from 2021 levels.

Convenience Retail – Reduce operational emissions on an absolute basis by 50% from 2021 levels.

Renewable energy – Commit to 50% equivalent net renewable electricity for operational use

By 2040 – Net zero emissions operations.

And to make it very clear to the ‘dills’.

Message from the CEO

Ampol’s Future Energy and Decarbonisation Strategy

Ampol is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and finding and developing new energy solutions that assist our customers in their energy transition.

So, it begs the question.

What planet are these boycotting cartoonists on? It can’t be the same planet they want to save by way of vane morality.

One of these cartoonists claims to be a dog living on the moon.

There are two boxes that need ticking to be a cartoonist, or there were.

Box 1 – Able to Draw

Box 2 – Be funny

Today’s so-called cartoonists avoid one, but most often both boxes.

Instead post uni-graduate editors have devised a new box.

Box 3 – Own a set of pearls and clutch daily.

Very few of today’s emerging cartoonists are published based on any skill, humour or drawing ability.

The exceptions include Johannes Leak and Mark Knight, both at the top of their game, and showing the rest how it’s done.

Both are talented artists in their own rights and incredibly funny.

Both have spoken out against this pointless boycott. Leak couldn’t be bothered entering the mutual back-slapping awards, preferring to let his readers judge his work, most are potential award winners.

At this point, I have a confession to make.

I naively entered the Walkleys only once, at age 23 – in 1984 with a cartoon on then-PM Bob Hawke.

Much to my surprise, and probably to the surprise of many, I won.

I received a bronze statue.

It didn’t help me draw better cartoons. I still needed to prove myself daily.

Some years later the journalists’ union, the Australian Journalists Association (AJA) custodian-manager of the awards at the time mandated only union members were eligible for the award.

That left me and my mates, Bill Mitchell and Larry Pickering, among others ineligible.

Awards should be judged on merit, not political affiliations, as the Walkleys have become, which is why they’re now commonly referred to as The Wokelys.

My late friend all those years ago, Bill Mitchell, cartoonist at The Australian once told me, “You’re only as good as your last cartoon.”

In the case of many of today’s examples, “You’re as bad as your last cartoon.”

Nobody wants to be lectured by a cartoon.

Today’s wordy sermons are a turn-off for most readers unless you’re into religious indoctrination.

As a collector, restorer and customiser of classic fossil-fueled American land yachts, I support a fossil fuel sponsor, which has not only established the journalism awards but continues to fund the awards and necessary transport.

That Ampol has a strategy to reach net zero operations by 2040 seems to be entirely ignored in this useless, vain exercise by an uninformed clique, too quick to publicly showcase their moral superiority.

I wonder whether these woke cartoonists have ever been transported by air or road in a fossil-fueled vehicle. If they have and have been awarded a Wokely in the past, will they send it back in protest?

I did.


And will they walk around town in future. Or take a bike?

When they’ve foolishly convinced the Walkley custodians to remove the sponsor that is transitioning to net zero by 2040, who will replace the sponsor?

Will that sponsor be morally virtuous?

Will these cartoonists give up their devices upon which they rely to draw and deliver their cartoons?

All devices have plastic components.

The main ingredient in most plastic material is a derivative from crude oil and natural gas. Fossil fuels.


And the clothes they wear. Most clothes are more likely to be made of materials and chemicals derived from fossil fuel-based crude oil.

The same with their household furnishings. Fossil fuel sourced.

Will these morally superior cartoonists live naked in caves or trees and carve their doodlings on cave walls or tree trunks, while burning fire?

Oops. Fire emits carbon.

So, no fire allowed.

Now, that’s progressive.

Paul Zanetti is a retired cartoonist and classic American car restorer, customiser and collector and a proud consumer of fossil fuels. PS – Pictures. Receiving the Walkley from Bob Hawke in 1984.  Some of my fossil fueled tanks over the years.

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