A Liberal backbencher has branded a British meteorologist an ‘ignorant Pommy weather girl’ after she called him a climate change denier on television.
Craig Kelly, a climate change sceptic, was interviewed on Good Morning Britain on Monday by Piers Morgan and weather presenter Laura Tobin about the bushfire crisis.
Mr Kelly said there was ‘simply no’ evidence to suggest a long-term trend towards a warming climate and also said it was ‘nonsense’ that lower carbon dioxide emissions could reduce bushfires.
Morgan said he needed to ‘wake up’ before Miss Tobin said he was burying his ‘head in the sand and called him a ‘climate denier’.
On Tuesday morning, the federal MP for Hughes in Sydney’s south hit back.
On Tuesday morning, the federal MP for Hughes in Sydney’s south hit back with this post
Miss Tobin responded in a scathing Twitter post saying she was a qualified meteorologist with a degree in physics
He shared Daily Mail’s article about the interview on Facebook and wrote sarcastically: ‘Oh no! Ignorant Pommy weather girl calls me a ‘climate change denier’.’
Miss Tobin responded in a scathing Twitter post saying she was a qualified meteorologist with a degree in physics.
‘I know what I’m talking about, do you?’ she wrote.
Mr Kelly is on the right wing of the Liberal Party and heavily criticised former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s controversial plan for a national energy and emissions policy.
During the interview on Monday, he said that the fires were caused by poor forest management rather than climate change.
Mr Kelly said: ‘You have to look at the science, but one of the factors contributing are the fuel loads. Every commission post bushfire says we need to reduce them, but we always fail to do so.
‘Our lifestyle depends on fossil fuels, it can’t be done without it. Some politicians have hijacked the debate to push their ideological barrow but what causes fires? Drought and build-up of fuel loads.’
Meteorologist Miss Tobin told Mr Kelly that Australia had experienced its hottest and driest year ever year on record ‘with forecasts records that go back more than 100 years’
Fire crews put out spot fires on January 4 in Sarsfield, Victoria
Meteorologist Miss Tobin hit back, telling Mr Kelly that Australia had experienced its hottest and driest year ever on record ‘with forecasts records that go back more than 100 years’.
She said: ‘We want everyone in the world to lower the global temperature rise by 1.5C, you [Australia] can’t even commit to 2C.
‘You have the second highest carbon emission on earth and you are burying your head in the sand. You’re not a climate sceptic – you’re a climate denier.’
During the interview, Piers Morgan told the MP to ‘wake up’.
‘You are facing now one of the greatest crises you have ever faced, and there is you… who still doesn’t think this has anything to do with a heating up planet,’ Morgan said.
‘Climate change and global warming are real and Australia right now is showing the entire world just how devastating it is.’
Talking to the ABC on Tuesday, Mr Kelly claimed Morgan ‘didn’t want to hear the facts’ and said ‘the weather girl had no idea what she was talking about’.
He also defended Prime Minister’s Scott Morrison’s holiday in Hawaii while the fires were underway.
‘The ultimate responsibility for fighting fires is the state premiers and the state emergency services,’ Mr Kelly said.
‘The only thing the national leader can actually do on this is basically wait until he gets response from those state premiers asking for more resources.’
Mr Kelly denied embarrassing the government with the interview, despite his comments putting him at odds with the prime minister.
‘A sideshow’: MPs slam Craig Kelly
Senior government ministers are distancing themselves from Liberal MP Craig Kelly who dismissed the link between climate change and bushfires.
As recently as Sunday, the prime minister claimed his government had always made the connection between climate change and extreme weather conditions.
Mr Kelly, who strongly denies the link, made his views known to an international audience.
Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud described his comments as a ‘sideshow’.
‘He doesn’t represent the views of the government,’ Mr Littleproud told reporters on Tuesday.
‘I couldn’t give a rats what he said, it’s irrelevant, let’s just focus on those people that are out there that need our help.’
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also put Mr Kelly at arms length from the government.
‘Our view of climate change is that it’s real. We accept the science,’ Mr Frydenberg said.
While Mr Frydenberg said fuel loads had been a factor in the bushfires, he said climate change was causing hotter, drier summers.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he was despaired by Mr Kelly’s comments.
‘The tragedy is that he’s imposed those views along with a few others to ensure that Australia isn’t taking action,’ Mr Albanese said.
After being panned for the ‘train wreck’ interview, Mr Kelly has defended his decision to go on air, saying he needed to defend the government because it was under attack.
‘The only people who are denying things are those that think … these bushfires could have been stopped if we had sent more money to China to buy more solar panels,’ Mr Kelly told ABC.
He said Australia’s resources were limited and needed to prioritise resources towards hazard reduction rather than renewable energy infrastructure.
The prime minister claimed on Sunday his government had always made the connection between climate change and extreme weather conditions.
Scientists have disputed claims a lack of hazard reduction burns have led to the size of the bushfires, with some ex-fire chiefs blaming the effects of climate change.
Miss Tobin also then corrected Mr Kelly who said Australia had the largest growth in renewable energies in the world, telling him that was in fact India