‘It’s nuts’: Turnbull’s message to ScoMo
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken a swing at the government's "fundamental problem in dealing with climate change", saying religion and belief should never play a part.
The ex-leader of Australia joined the panel on ABC's final Q&A for the year on Monday night, alongside Opposition leader Anthony Albanese, and had the right faction of the coalition government in his line of sight.
Mr Turnbull made the comments while responding to the first question from the audience about the need for a better bushfire crisis management plan, given the fatalities and hundreds of homes recently lost across the country.
He agreed a better plan was necessary as we'll see "more fires and hotter fires" due to global warming.
"There is a group within the Liberal Party and the National Party who deny the reality of climate change," Mr Turnbull said.
"And will oppose to the point of essentially blowing up a government, my government in this case, if there is action taken to reduce emissions. And we saw that."
The former leader said the proposed National Energy Guarantee "dared to contemplate that climate change might be real" and became "the lever that the insurgents used to blow up the government".
One man in the audience asked Mr Turnbull if he regretted not sticking to his beliefs on climate change while leading the country and going down "fighting" back in August 2018.
"I guess I did go down," he replied.
"I lost the support of the party room."
Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had been as "enthusiastic" for the energy policy as he was but knew that the government's stance was being "held to ransom by a group of deniers within the party".
This extended to some people in the media and other sections outside parliament, he said.
"Therein lies the problem," Mr Turnbull said.
"What the problem is, is that 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."
Mr Morrison's faith is widely known and he invited the media into his Pentecostal Christian church in southern Sydney earlier this year.
He has been slammed on Twitter in recent months for sending "thoughts and prayers" to those impacted by the bushfires.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been so directly and horribly impacted by these fires. https://t.co/XvgsLv4eht— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 9, 2019
Hundreds replied to Mr Morrison's tweet, with many describing it as doing "absolutely nothing" to fix the situation.
Mr Morrison also faced global criticism this week on the government's inaction on climate change, later appearing in NSW to thank firefighters who were out working in the field.
"Thank you all very much, God bless you all, and I hope you can fit in a bit of Christmas along the way but I know your first priority is what you're doing out there today," he said via the radio network.
The Labor leader, Mr Albanese, on Monday night agreed with Mr Turnbull that a few people had held the "environment to ransom".
He said Australia should be pushing to be "the clean energy super power for the world".
"The real tragedy is that good policy on climate change can create jobs, can reduce prices, as well as reducing emissions at the same time," Mr Albanese said.
He said he wrote to Mr Morrison three weeks ago saying a national response was needed.
"He wrote back to me saying it wasn't required," Mr Albanese said.
"I agree with Malcolm this is an issue that needs leadership but it also needs co-ordination.
"Yes, the state governments will be responsible for emergency services, but fires don't recognise state boundaries."
It is disappointing the Australian government won't acknowledge climate change. We are a laughing stock internationally #QandA— Simone Haigh (@simonehaigh) December 9, 2019
Malcolm was knifed by Climate Deniers - he didn’t sack himself #qanda— Croydon Cathy (@croydoncathy) December 9, 2019
These fires need to be treated like a national threat and met with a national, emergency response. #QandA— Brett Griffo (@BrettGriffo) December 9, 2019
Fire management is a priority now the smoke is over Sydney hey #qanda— Matt Facey (@drmattfacey) December 9, 2019
#Auspol— 💧Grunta (Grant Turner) (@gruntat) December 9, 2019
So #QandA tonight is going to be like watching back to front land..
We're going to have Ex Lib leader Turnbull spruiking for renewables and current Lab leader Albanese spruiking for coal.
That'll cost me another tv think I'll give it a miss.
Monday night wasn't without quips or speedy responses from host Tony Jones either, marking his final episode in the hot seat before handing the baton to Hamish Macdonald in 2020.
Also on the panel was South African-Australian author Sisonke Msmiang who responded to a question from an Aboriginal man who said his life expectancy came before his retirement age.
"The structural problem is the gap exists because of racism against indigenous people in this country," she said.
"My question is why isn't everyone else appalled by that to the point where we address the racism problem, rather than accepting the reality that life is going to be shorter for our fellow indigenous citizens of this country?
"That's the bigger question."
Jones said the question that immediately followed was "on this general subject of racism", from a school student describing the negative impact of politicians' language when discussing overpopulation levels, refugees and border protection.
The girl said she was a second generation Australian with an Arab background and of Muslim faith.
"I'll come back to you," Jones said, turning to Ms Msimang.
"You're coming back to me because I'm black," the Always Another Country author replied.
Jones quickly responded: "Because you raised the issue of racism a moment ago."
Ms Msimang said: "I did but part of the accountability falls with the people who are tasked with our society with dealing with these broader structural questions.
"I have no problem answering the question but I think it's important to direct the question to where the problem lies. And the problem does not lie with black people who can answer the questions about racism, the problem lies with where the source, the genesis of racism is, in our society," she said.
"That's with people who hold positions of responsibility. I do think it's important for the politicians to answer the question."
‘Problem does not lie with black people when it comes to racism’— Joe Williams - TEW (@joewilliams_tew) December 9, 2019