“It’s nuts”, was the verdict of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on the deep scepticism in Liberal ranks and in some sections of the media over climate change science.
During the last Q&A program for the year he let rip on the MPs who blew up his leadership – twice on climate change.
“The Coalition has a fundamental problem in dealing with climate change because there is a group within the Liberal Party and the National Party who deny the reality of climate change,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The problem is people … on the right, they are treating what should be a question of physics and science and economics and engineering as though it were an issue of religion and belief. And it’s nuts.”
Asked about “climate change do-nothings” in the Coalition, he admitted he regretted not having “stuck to his beliefs” and demanding action.
“The government’s policy on climate is being held to ransom by a group of deniers within the party and in the media and other sections outside the Parliament,” Mr Turnbull said.
So who is he talking about?
Some are no longer in politics but all wield influence and power.
Tony Abbott – former PM
He famously declared “climate change is crap” 10 years ago. But, to be fair, the ex-MP has had more positions on emissions trading than the Karma Sutra. What has stayed consistent is his deep doubts over the science of climate change.
“Whether carbon dioxide is quite the environmental villain that some people make it out to be is not yet proven,” he once said.
“I don’t think we can say that the science is settled here. These so-called nasty big polluters are the people that keep the lights on. I mean, let’s not forget how essential these people are to the business of daily life.”
Gina Rinehart – billionaire
Australia’s richest woman is a long-time critic of big, scary climate change predictions.
“Some mainstream media like to attack me because I speak out against a carbon tax,” Ms Rinehart has said. “We are showing we can think for ourselves, and are not swayed by the global-warming fear campaign.”
She also puts her money where her mouth is, donating $2 million to the conservative think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.
“Remember when the mainstream media was running frightening commentary about carbon-induced global warming?” she once said.
“We read and heard about how oceans would rise, flooding our homes, and how, over years, we’d be scorched due to the increasing heat.”
Craig Kelly – Liberal MP
“Of course the climate always changes,” he told The New Daily. “What I think is bulls–t is the idea that if we can do something here in Australia that will change the weather. The policies that are required are a form of austerity. The idea you can close down all your coal-fired power stations and the price of electricity won’t go up is a complete and utter nonsense.”
He said Mr Turnbull was entitled to his opinion, along with 25 million other Australians.
Ian Plimer – geologist
Writing an opinion piece titled Repeat after me: Carbon dioxide is good for us possibly is a little incendiary. It certainly got a response from scientists, who piled on to complain.
“Climate policy is underpinned by two fallacies. The first is that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming,” he once said.
“The second is that future climate can be predicted from computer models,” he wrote last year. “It has yet to be shown that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive climate change.”
Barnaby Joyce – Nationals MP and ex-leader
For a long time, $100 roasts were the National MP’s big beef with carbon tax.
“I don’t think your working mothers are going to be very happy when they’re paying over $100 for a roast,” he complained.
He made bold predictions that a single cow or lamb could cost as much as a house. It prompted the Gillard government to describe him as “deranged”.
Mr Joyce maintains the idea that Australia can stop climate change “doesn’t stack up”. “The very idea that we can stop climate change is barking mad. Climate change is inevitable, as geology has always shown,” he said in a Facebook post.
Rupert Murdoch – News Corp executive chairman
Last month, the media mogul rubbished claims that News Corp newspapers are banging the drum for climate change sceptics.
“There are no climate change deniers around, I can assure you,” he claimed. “We have reduced our global carbon footprint by 25 per cent six years ahead of schedule.”
But there’s no doubt many leading critics of climate change ‘hysteria’ belong to News Corp.
Matt Canavan – Resources Minister
The Nationals senator believes Australia needs to be careful about the “climate change bogey man”.
Asked if there was a link between global warming and the bushfires on Andrew Bolt’s program on Thursday night, he said: “The basic answer to your question is the jury is still out. There’s a lot of hysteria out there.
He urged NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean, who said this week the smoke choking Sydney was “not normal” to “stick to your knitting”.
George Christensen – LNP MP
At a sceptics conference in Las Vegas, the Queensland MP once compared the climate change debate to a science fiction film plot.
“In Australia, we have crossed that point where the horror genre is descending into a comedy,” he said.
“It’s hard to tell the difference between an alarmist claim about global effects and the basic premise of a disaster movie plot. The weather and climate in Australia has not changed in the last century, but a new religious interpretation has arisen since then. When we are in a flood, they tell us ‘too much rain is a sign’, ‘more hurricanes is a sign’, ‘fewer hurricanes is a sign’, ‘the sky is blue, it’s a sign’, ‘gravity – it’s a sign’.”
Alan Jones – broadcaster
A devotee of Ian Plimer, Jones also believes carbon dioxide gets a bum rap. “Carbon dioxide is supposed to be a threat to the planet,” he said.
“But carbon dioxide is often an aid to our environment. A recent study by the University of Wyoming found that prairie grasslands in America benefit from increased levels of carbon dioxide.
‘”People who graze cattle and raise livestock face a lot of uncertainty in terms of extreme heatwaves and drought, but elevated carbon dioxide seems to be dampening the extreme effects on the ecosystem. It is clear to see from this that carbon dioxide is our friend, rather than our enemy.”
Eric Abetz – Tasmanian senator
A self-described climate change agnostic rather than a sceptic, Senator Eric Abetz was disgusted when the Conversation website moved to ban the views that questioned climate change.
“Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong couldn’t have put it better themselves. They’d be so proud,” he told Parliament.
“To so superciliously and arrogantly deny a voice to an alternative point of view is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.”