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.
- Piers Morgan blasted the Liberal backbencher on air, telling him to “wake up”
- Mr Kelly said the cause of the fires was the “build-up of fuel load and the drought”
- Scott Morrison sought to reassure the public his Government accepted the link between climate change and natural disasters
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Kelly 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.”
Morgan blasted the Liberal backbencher on air, telling him to “wake up”.
“Climate change is real, and Australia right now is telling the entire world just how devasting it is,” he said.
“For senior politicians in Australia to still pretend there’s no connection is absolutely disgraceful.”
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 quietly 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.
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