“Who in their right mind would back this bloke?”
That’s the thought that comes to me when I so much as look at Craig Kelly. A mouthpiece for idiocy, Kelly’s spent his entire political career trying to stay relevant in the most shameful of ways.
A serial denier of climate change, the controversial MP and member for Hughes has used his social media pages to share a litany of lies: That rising CO2 in the atmosphere can’t be linked to Australia’s bushfire crisis, that the world has actually been experiencing a dramatic cooling, that children have never been safer from the threat of global warming, and that “climate alarmists” are driven by various personal agendas.
When he was torn apart over his position during a live interview with Laura Tobin and Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain, Kelly hit back with petulance and sexism: “Oh no! Ignorant Pommy weather girl calls me a ‘climate denier’ ” he said, before further citing select rainfall data to justify his dubious stance.
Last year, he discredited the United Nations saying the global organisation had “been taken over by liars fools and socialists” and that the head of the UN Environment programme, Inger Andersen was “a complete idiot”.
And he’s continuously supported Donald Trump’s big lie– that the US election was somehow rigged and encouraged the former President’s pursuit of legal action. Following January’s Capitol Riots– incited by Trump– Kelly also falsely asserted that Antifa, a left-wing, anti-fascist and anti-racist political movement in the US was involved.
But perhaps Kelly’s most egregious lie has been his take on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Beyond implying that the crisis is a bit of a beat up, Kelly has for months used his Facebook page to spout rampant misinformation. He has criticised his own government’s policy and regularly endorsed alternative, discredited treatments for the virus like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
After featuring on a conspiracy podcast with disgraced paleo chef and media personality, Pete Evans, Kelly also condemned the use of face masks likening the requirement to “child abuse” that was “causing massive physical and psychological harm”.
Naturally, a number of qualified leaders have spoken out against Kelly’s destructive bile in recent weeks.
Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly criticised the MP’s posts as containing “no evidence” and refused to give time “to views that I just don’t agree with and are not scientifically based”.
The Greens and Labor have both called for him to lose his position as chair of the parliamentary joint committee on law enforcement, and former Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull called his former colleague “wrong” “reckless” and “irresponsible” to mislead the Australian public on matters of public health.
But what about Scott Morrison? What’s he doing to address the situation? The simple answer: Nada.
On Monday, speaking at Canberra’s Press Club, the Prime Minister downplayed Kelly’s influence, saying “He’s not my doctor and he’s not yours”, before adding that the MP was doing a “great job” in his Sydney electorate.
But how can a leader be doing a “great job” when his primary impetus is to drive a baseless, noxious agenda? How can his leader– the leader of the party and the leader of the people– not feel responsible to condemn these claims?
It’s not enough to joke that Craig Kelly’s “not my doctor”, when his influence is seismic.
Because, while I may look at Craig Kelly and question ‘who backs the bloke?’, the reality is that many people, thousands of people, do. With one of the largest social followings of any politician, Kelly’s words are not spoken in a vacuum; they are taken and redistributed by Australians who trust their elected leader.
Morrison’s refusal to condemn Kelly speaks volumes. It shows that he cares more about lightening tensions with the right faction of his party than advocating for his country. In his attempt to keep the peace, he’s enabling flagrant lies that could ultimately cost lives.
And we need more than this from our leader.