AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein appeared on ABC-TV’s Lateline, responding to the use of Nazi and Holocaust analogy in Australia’s climate change debate.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has moved to distance himself from climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton.
TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton has angered Australia’s Jewish community by comparing the Federal Government’s climate change advisor Ross Garnaut to Adolf Hitler.
Lord Monckton is due to speak at a mining conference in Perth next week, but it’s unlikely he’ll get a warm reception from political leaders.
Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: The climate change debate is getting ugly. There’ve been reports of death threats against scientists and now the views of the Federal Government’s climate change advisor, Professor Ross Garnaut, are being compared to Nazism.
CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON, CLIMATE CHANGE SPEAKER: Heil Hitler. On we go.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The comparison was made last month at a conference in the US by prominent climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton. He says Professor Garnaut’s suggestion that people should accept the mainstream science of climate change is akin to fascism.
CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: That again is a fascist point of view, that you merely accept authority without question.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Australia’s political elite has been quick to condemn Lord Monckton.
MALCOLM TURNBULL, OPPOSITION COMMUNICATIONS SPOKESMAN: Monckton is a vaudeville artist. He has no credibility, politically or scientifically, particularly in the United Kingdom and he is a professional sensationalist. So he says these outrageous things in order to get into the press.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: It’s worked. The controversial British peer is due to speak at a conference in Perth next week organised by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies.
Tony Abbott is also a keynote speaker. He says he won’t be meeting Lord Monckton.
TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: I thought that those comments were offensive and over the top and I repudiate them. I’m happy to go to the AMEC conference.
JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: Who speaks at a particular conference is a matter for the conference organisers and who else attends is a matter for those people, but certainly, this was very offensive conduct, grossly unacceptable conduct.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The conference organisers say they’re not standing in judgement of the views of those attending and they’re not cancelling Lord Monckton’s appearance.
The target of Lord Monckton’s attack says it’s an affront to democracy.
ROSS GARNAUT, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CLIMATE CHANGE ADVISOR: It is a bitter and distorted debate that we’re having in Australia.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: But the Nazism comparisons have angered many in Australia’s Jewish community.
COLIN RUBENSTEIN, AUSTRALIA/ISRAEL & JEWISH AFFAIRS COUNCIL: We’re really disappointed that, you know, he would stoop to that level in trivialising one of the worst episodes of the 20th Century, that the swastika and the Nazis represented to be used in what should be a very important public policy debate.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Dr Colin Rubenstein heads the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. He’s also a political scientist who’s lectured in the environment and politics. He says some of the language used by both sides of the debate is counter-productive.
COLIN RUBENSTEIN: For example, the deliberate and provocative use of the term denial, holocaust denial for the alleged critics or sceptics is also entirely inappropriate. It clouds what should be a serious debate about the implications of climate change.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Lord Monckton is a former journalist and advisor to the Thatcher government who’s falsely claimed to be a member of Britain’s House of Lords and a Nobel peace laureate.
He’s used Nazi analogies before, in reference to the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009.
LORD MONCKTON: You are listening now to the shouts in the background of the Hitler Youth, who have sprayed (inaudible) Copenhagen with green slogans of a childish …
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: A popular public speaker, Lord Monckton is often unfairly ridiculed by his critics because of his appearance, the result of the hyperthyroid condition Graves’ Disease, which he says he cured himself of.
His biography also claims he has cures for other diseases and viruses, including multiple sclerosis, influenza, and herpes simplex 6. They’re conditions for which medical science has no known cures.
Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.