Federal MP Craig Kelly has been rumbled by none other than UK media pest Piers Morgan over his response to the Australian bushfire crisis, showcasing the climate denialism at the heart of Australian politics to the world.
Taking to Good Morning Britain yesterday, Kelly rattled off a trifecta of antagonistic talking points: he blamed a lack of hazard reduction burns for the fires, denied links between fossil fuel use and a heating planet, and defended Prime Minister Scott Morrison for, you know, holidaying in Hawaii while the fires tore through New South Wales.
Echoing claims from Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and a thousand crank Facebook pages, Kelly pointed to a supposed lack of hazard reduction burns – that is, controlled and pre-emptive burns in cooler seasons to reduce flammable material – as a key factor in the recent fires.
That claim, and parallel conspiracy theories that the Greens have prevented hazard reduction burns, have been rubbished by experts. Hazard reduction burns still occur as much as is practical, but in November, former NSW Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that conditions are now so routinely hot and dry that hazard reduction burns can become hazards themselves.
“Warmer, drier conditions with higher fire danger are preventing agencies from conducting as much hazard reduction burning,” Mullins said, adding “Blaming “greenies” for stopping these important measures is a familiar, populist, but basically untrue claim.”
After an interruption by Morgan, Kelly defended his stance on carbon-belching fuel sources, saying they have “nothing to do with the fires.”
“Fossil fuels are one of the things that our lifestyle depends upon,” Kelly added. Given the fact our lifestyle now involves ever-heightening temperatures and catastrophic bushfires, he’s right – just not in the way he thinks.
“To try and make out, as some politicians have done, and to hijack this debate, to exploit this tragedy, to push their ideological barrow that somehow or another, the Australian government could have done something by reducing its carbon emissions, that would have reduced these bushfires, is just complete nonsense,” Kelly added.
At this point it is worth mentioning that Kelly is a key member of the Parliamentary Friends of Coal Exports, and that Australia is only behind Russia and Saudi Arabia in terms of CO2 potential from its international fossil fuel trade. It’s almost like the guy has a vested interest in defending coal and gas industries, but more research may be required.
As for the defence of Morrison, Kelly claimed it was up to the states to carry the burden of fires.
Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid jumped in, asking Kelly “it’s a national emergency, isn’t it, Mr Kelly? So you’d expect a national leader to take charge and not fly out of the country?”
“Well, the only thing the national leader can actually do on this is basically wait until he gets response from those state leaders asking for more resources,” Kelly said. May as well have a cocktail on the beach, then.
When Piers Morgan has the moral authority in an argument, you really have to wonder where things went wrong. If you’d like to see how our government is represented to viewers overseas, we highly recommend you catch the full clip below: