Liberal MP’s climate denials a ‘sideshow’

Craig Kelly. Photo: Getty
Craig Kelly. Photo: Getty

SENIOR government ministers are distancing themselves from an outspoken backbencher who dismissed the link between climate change and bushfires.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly has caused major headaches after appearing on British television to talk about Australia’s bushfire crisis.

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.”

Mr Kelly said the suggestion the government could have reduced the bushfires by bringing down carbon emissions was nonsense.

Instead, he made disputed claims that fuel loads were largely to blame for the spread of the fires.

Scientists have disputed claims a lack of hazard reduction burns have led to the size of the bushfires, with former fire chiefs blaming the effects of climate change.

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.

Good Morning Britain host Laura Tobin called Mr Kelly a “climate denier” with Piers Morgan telling 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.

Mr Kelly later dismissed Tobin as a “arrogant pommy weather girl” who didn’t know what she was talking about, and claimed Morgan “didn’t want to hear the facts”.

Tobin quickly hit back, pointing out she was a qualified meteorologist and former aviation forecaster for the Royal Air Force.