Sometimes when I write these essays (or whatever they are), I find it difficult to not type with my fists as my rage is almost insuperable. This one hasn’t made it any easier. Our feckless Prime Minister Scott Mutebutton (sorry, Freudian slip, I meant Morrison) has again tried to reimagine history much like he did when trying to cover up his urging of Cabinet to use community fear of Muslims for political advantage1.
Now, as if to try to outdo himself, he has stated something that is patently untrue, but not a surprise. He said that “There is no dispute in this country about the issue of climate change, globally, and its effect on global weather patterns, and that includes how that impacts in Australia … I have to correct the record here, I have seen a number of people suggest that somehow the government does not make this connection. The government has always made this connection and that has never been in dispute.”2 This is probably one of the greatest lies ever told by Morrison. To say that the government has always ‘believed’ in climate change is such an obvious and easily demonstrated lie, it is hard to imagine what was going through Morrison’s head when he made the statement. I think it simply indicates how desperate Morrison is to avoid any semblance of blame for the disaster the nation now faces.
To demonstrate how far Morrison’s assertion is from the truth I’ll start with him and continue with a few of his colleagues:
Scott Morrison (Liberal, Cook) brought a lacquered lump of coal into parliament given to him by the climate change denying Minerals Council. As Katharine Murphy from the Guardian said: “The coal was produced as a totem of how the government in Canberra was going to keep the lights on, and keep power prices low, and stop the relentless march of socialism, or prevent random thought crimes against base-load power stations.”3 This was an appalling thing to do and demonstrates Morrison’s lack of political nous. I suspect it will turn out to be the only image for which he is remembered, and that seems entirely appropriate.
Craig Kelly (Liberal, Hughes) is a foaming at the mouth climate change denier. He has said that renewable energy will kill people, and that sea level is not rising4. He also stated that coral atolls float on the ocean, so any sea level rise would not be a problem. He also maintained that the Australian Broadcasting Commission was withholding ‘crucial information’ on climate change5. For his stupidity, Kelly was on the verge of losing preselection for his seat, but Morrison stepped in and saved him6.
Celia Hammond (Liberal, Curtin) has stated that the effect of humans on the climate is “very minimal” apparently believing that, despite being an academic lawyer, she is better at climate science, than the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO or any other scientific organisation you care to name. As she was an academic lawyer at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic university, so perhaps believes her god wouldn’t let this happen.
Tony Abbott (Liberal, formerly Waringah), although in parliament no longer, was Prime Minister until he was booted out from the Prime Ministership in favour of Malcolm Turnbull. He is infamous for stating at a Liberal Party dinner in 2009, that he thought climate science was “crap”. Under Abbott’s brief tenure as Prime Minister (the Abbott hilarity), the government repealed the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme which was decreasing emissions quite effectively8, and replaced it with a scheme which has allowed them to start climbing again. The government also decreased the renewable energy target, closed the Climate Council, attempted to close the Climate Change Authority, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and almost completely eradicated the words ‘climate change’ from the Intergenerational Report9. That doesn’t sound like he took account of what science tells us.
Eric Abetz (Liberal, Senate, Tasmania) gave a speech to the Young Liberals in South Australia in 2012 in which he characterised environmental concerns over acid rain, ozone depletion, pesticide use and climate change as “chicken little type hysteria”10. Another religious nutter, perhaps he believes that his god wouldn’t allow any of this to happen
Matthew Canavan (LNP, Senate, Queensland) is clearly a climate change denier, given that he said: “Despite what you might hear in the media—and, indeed, what you heard in this chamber only a short while ago—climate change science has become less certain and gives us less reason to worry since the last major climate conference in Copenhagen six years ago.” While he does acknowledge that carbon dioxide can lead to warming of the atmosphere he believes that it is not going to be a problem because he quotes some climate change deniers to support his beliefs11.
George Christensen (LNP, Dawson) attended a Heartland Institute (ultra-right wing and climate change denial lobby group in the USA) and described concerns over climate change as “hysteria” and calls for action to combat it as like something out of a science fiction film. He has said: “It’s hard to tell the difference between an alarmist claim about global effects and the basic premise of a disaster movie plot. The weather and climate in Australia has not changed in the last century but a new religious interpretation has arisen since then. When we are in a flood, they tell us ‘too much rain is a sign, more hurricanes is a sign, fewer hurricanes is a sign, the sky is blue — it’s a sign. Gravity — it’s a sign’.”12 Of course, any perusal of the data from the last hundred years will show how much the climate has changed.
Peter Dutton (LNP, Dickson) is perhaps best remembered for his joke at the expense of Pacific Islanders, seemingly unaware that that large boom-like thing above his head actually had a microphone at the end of it. His views on climate science are unknown, but given the above gaffe, it seems he does not take it too seriously13.
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Senate, New South Wales) has stated that she hoped the climate science curriculum would reflect balance if there was a divergence of views in the science. In 2011, she was seemingly oblivious to the satirical nature of a question posed by a member of the audience, who, in part said that climate science ‘was just a theory … like gravity’. The senator replied “If there are two points of view then that is fair enough”. It is difficult to tell if she is simply naïve, or is a climate change denier.14
Alex Hawke (Liberal, Mitchell) has stated that “To say that climate change is human induced is to overblow and overstate our role in the scheme of the universe quite completely over a long period of time. I note that the member for Fraser came in here today with a very strong view about how human beings have been the source of all change in the universe at all times. He has joined a long line of Labor backbenchers I have spoken about in this place before—amateur scientists, wannabe weather readers, people who want to read the weather, people who like to come in here and make the most grandiose predictions about all sorts of scientific matters without even a basic understanding of the periodic table, or the elements or where carbon might be placed on the periodic table. So, the member for Fraser has joined this esteemed group of people who seem to be great authorities on science.” Apart from being temporally incoherent, it is clear that he is a climate change denier. It is also clear that he does not understand irony given that he is complaining about ‘amateur scientists’ when it is many of his colleagues who tell all the climate scientists on the planet that they are wrong.15
Barnaby Joyce (National, New England) probably exemplifies the idiot end of the climate change denialism spectrum better than anyone in parliament except for Craig Kelly. Joyce called climate change “an indulgent and irrelevant debate because, even if climate change turns out to exist one day, we will have absolutely no impact on it whatsoever”. He has also said that he was “always sceptical [that] anybody’s going to change the environment”16. Now he has actually realised that the climate is changing, but, as if to further illustrate his monumental ignorance, he initially blamed the Sun’s magnetic field for climate change (yes, seriously). He said: “There are a range of things that affect the climate and on a global scale, you should be part of it, and acknowledge it would have an effect and I acknowledge that there are other issues as well… There’s just the oscillation of the seasons. There’s a change in the magnetic field of the sun.”17 However, a few weeks later, he blamed his god for it and suggested that if we try to fix it his god would not be happy.18 It is difficult to understand the thought processes behind this abject drivel.
Andrew Laming (LNP, Bowman) seems to believe that since Australia is a relatively small country and has lower total emissions than larger countries (but not low per capita emissions), we should do nothing. He never overtly denies climate science, but his statements indicate that he is a climate change denier12.
Ian Macdonald (LNP, former senator, Queensland) lost his seat in the senate at the 2019 election and has stated in parliament that Australia’s children have been “brainwashed” about human-induced climate change. He said he did not deny the climate was changing. “As I repeatedly say, Australia was once covered in ice. Of course the climate changes.” But he challenged the theory that humans were contributing to this. “This new theory, I refer to it often as a fad or a farce or a hoax, that suddenly since man started the industrial age, a change of climate has happened is just farcical and fanciful.”. The fact that Australia was never ‘covered in ice’, except perhaps 600 million years ago when Australia was much smaller, demonstrates the level of ignorance of Macdonald and his speechwriters19. It is symptomatic of people like him who seem to think science is simply a matter of opinion.
James Paterson (Liberal senator, Victoria) is a member of the Institute of Public Affairs, the ultra-right wing lobbying organisation, which seems to pull the strings in the Liberal Party. It is a stridently opposed to any action to mitigate climate change, because they insist it does not exist. So, that and the way he refers to climate change clearly indicate he is also a denier20,21.
Zed Seselja (Liberal senator, Australian Capital Territory) has one of the worst records of voting in parliament with regard to the environment, and was disappointed when Turnbull toppled Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party. Seselja was also a member of the Monkeypod group of ultraconservatives22. Seselja is a big fan of coal, and once said that shutting down the coal industry will “send us back to the caves”. He was against the carbon price, the mining tax and voted against setting national targets for emissions reductions23.
Ann Sudmalis (Liberal, formerly Gilmore) resigned from parliament in 2019 when it would look like she would lose her seat at the May election. She has had this to say about climate change: “It is my belief that every Australian wants to ensure that the planet is a better place for the future, for their children and their grandchildren, but this carbon tax is not the mechanism, as has already been proved. Professor Woodcock (former NASA scientist) also said: ‘Carbon dioxide has been made out to be some kind of toxic gas but the truth is it’s the gas of life. We breathe it out, plants breath it in. The green lobby has created a do-good industry and it becomes a way of life, like a religion. I understand why people defend it when they have spent so long believing in it, people do not like to admit they have been wrong.’ They should have invested in research and development for our planet as there are now new gases impacting on our atmosphere.”24 This is something only a fruitcake or a complete ignoramus would say.
Angus Taylor (Liberal, Hume) has been a long term opponent of the renewable energy target and the renewable energy industry, and has said in parliament: that human-induced climate change is “the new climate religion” and that “religious belief is based on faith not facts. The new climate religion, recruiting disciples every day, has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.” At a ‘wind power fraud’ rally, he stated that he was not a “climate sceptic”25, which is clearly a lie as far as it goes. The epithet ‘climate sceptic’ is what all climate change deniers call themselves, in an attempt to give them some patina of respectability. It is simply polishing a turd.
Alan Tudge (Liberal, Aston) has written that the “greenhouse crusade rests on flawed logic” and rambled on about everything that depended on energy would be shut down. In 2007, he said: “Shut down our coal industry – our children’s wellbeing is at stake! This is the message from Greens’ leader Bob Brown, who argues that because burning coal emits large amounts of greenhouse gases, the coal industry should be shut down within a matter of years. Australian of the Year Tim Flannery has echoed Brown’s position, while Labor’s environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, has also singled out coal, effectively calling for the growth of the industry to be frozen.”26 He is clearly a climate change denier.
Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack (National, Riverina), who has been running around like a headless chicken since the fires first started, and late last year slammed the climate change concerns of many as the “ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies” and that “we’ve had fires in Australia since time began”27. These are common refrains from deniers, that those concerned about climate change are deranged and that this fire season is normal, despite just about everyone agreeing that this is unprecedented and is catastrophic. Subsequently, McCormack was one of those who attempted to blame arsonists for most, or all of the fires28, another tactic used by climate change deniers to attempt to deflect guilt from the government’s lack of action on climate change and its ignoring of warnings that this fire season was likely to be catastrophic.
These are just a few of the reprehensible liars in the government; life is too short to find all the lies from all these liars. What it does demonstrate is that, for Morrison to state that the government has always ‘believed’ the science of climate change is also a disgraceful lie. He clearly thinks that enough of the Australian populace are beneath contempt given that he lies constantly. I suppose that some of the populace think so little about politics that they can be lied to, and their gullibility is such that they do not notice. This technique of Morrison’s is much like that of Trump. Any lie will do to get past the interview or press conference at hand. Many journalists seem to be rather unconcerned about picking Morrison up on his lies. When they do, he gets agitated and annoyed at the journalist, refuses to answer, does not ‘accept the premise’, or ends the interview or press conference. That so many journalists are unconcerned about Morrison’s lies, is because a proportion of them are Murdoch hacks whose main aim is to keep the Coalition government in power. That is why the Murdoch media fulminate against climate scientists at every opportunity, trying to convince the gullible that climate change is only a matter of opinion. In fact, what they are trying to convince the gullible is that the opinion of a group of relatively uneducated Murdoch ignoramuses is just as valid as that of thousands of highly educated climate scientists who have been studying the climate for decades.