Craig Kelly and Piers Morgan in tense Good Morning Britain exchange over bushfires and climate change
Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has defended his Government’s handling of the bushfire crisis, during a combative UK television interview in which he argued the fires were caused by high fuel loads and not climate change.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Kelly — who has long questioned whether the climate is indeed changing, and whether human activity has played a part — was grilled by outspoken British host Piers Morgan, who introduced him as a “climate change sceptic“.
Mr Kelly nodded along during the introduction.
“You believe this has nothing to do with climate change, explain that,” Piers Morgan began.
Mr Kelly replied: “Well Piers, you have to look at science and what our scientists are telling us.
“What causes the fires is the build-up of fuel load and the drought.
“To try to make out — as some politicians have — to hijack this debate, exploit this tragedy and 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.”
The Bureau of Meteorology has said climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous bushfire conditions in Australia and other regions of the world.
Morgan blasted the Liberal backbencher on air, telling him to “wake up”.
“Climate change and global warming are real, and Australia right now is showing the entire world just how devasting it is,” Morgan said.
“For senior politicians in Australia to still pretend there’s no connection is absolutely disgraceful.”
Mr Kelly backed his decision to appear on the UK program in an interview with Radio National Breakfast host Tom Tilley.
“I went on that program to defend the Prime Minister, he was being attacked for what people were saying was a not-adequate response from Australia,” Mr Kelly said.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said his reaction to Mr Kelly’s comments that were aired in the UK was “one of despair”.
“Despair, not just that Craig Kelly has those views and continues to advocate them — not just here in Australia, but globally, and be seen to be representing the Australian Government’s position — but the knowledge that he’s one of the people who has held back action,” he said.
“He’s one of the people who has stopped action on climate change domestically, which has led us to be in a position whereby we’re actually, as well, arguing for less action internationally, rather than more.”
As fires burn across the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been under pressure to develop a stronger climate change policy.
The Australian leader has also made global headlines for his handling of the bushfire crisis, with international media outlets watching the fires closely.
His confrontational meeting with angry residents — who heckled the Prime Minister and refused to shake his hand during the brief visit — in the bushfire-ravaged New South Wales town of Cobargo was streamed across the world.
The criticism has left Mr Morrison repeatedly seeking to reassure the public — both domestically and abroad — his Government accepts the link between climate change and natural disasters.
“I should stress 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,” he said on Sunday.
And when asked later in the day what he would say to those around the world who were watching, he simply said: “Thank you very much for your support. Thank you.”
Mr Kelly’s senior Liberal colleagues are frustrated with the timing of this intervention, at a time when the Government is eager to highlight its $2 billion commitment to rebuilding towns devastated by the fires.
At a press conference in Canberra, Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said Mr Kelly’s views were not representative of the Government’s position.
“Quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do than worry about what a backbencher goes and says on national TV,” Mr Littleproud said.
“There’s peoples’ lives I’m trying to rebuild, there’s 26 Australians who have lost their lives, I couldn’t give a rats what he said, it’s irrelevant.
“Let’s just focus on those people who are out there who need our help, that’s what we should be focused on. These tidbits on the sidelines, I couldn’t care less about.”
This content was originally published here.