NEVER a stranger to controversy or a fossil-fuel funded think-tank, Scotland-based British peer Lord Christopher Monckton has been caught jumping the proverbial climate denial shark just weeks before a nationwide tour of Australia.
In a conference speech in Los Angeles earlier this month, Lord Monckton compared the Australian Government’s climate change policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut to a Nazi, saying his views were “fascist”.
In order to ram his rhetorical point home into the darkened Californian conference hall, Lord Monckton displayed a very large Nazi swastika next to a quote from Professor Garnaut, whose reports have been informing the Government’s position as it attempts to introduce a price on carbon.
News of the insult on ABC website The Drum sparked blanket newspaper and television coverage across Australia.
Labor Party leader and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard described the comments as “grossly inappropriate”. Prominent politician and former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, of the conservative-leaning Liberal party, said Lord Monckton was “a vaudeville artist” with “no credibility, politically or scientifically”.
Credibility or no credibility (given his lack of science qualifications, it is most likely the latter), the Nazi slur hasn’t discouraged Lord Monckton’s backers. At least part of Lord Monckton’s trip is being paid for by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, which has distanced itself from the comments but confirms he will still speak at it’s annual convention on 30 June in Perth. Opposition and Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, who has questioned the seriousness of human-caused climate change, is scheduled to open the convention.
Lord Monckton also toured Australia in early 2010, when it was revealed that mining magnate Gina Rinehart had donated funds and a member of staff to help co-ordinate the trip.
Ms Rinehart, chairman of Hancock Prospecting, was recently crowned as Australia’s wealthiest individual with recent analysis suggesting she could soon become the richest individual on the planet. As the sole owner and chairman of the iron ore and coal mining company (a position inherited from her father Lang Hancock), Ms Rinehart is estimated to be worth more than US$10 billion.
Earlier this month, it was revealed in The Age newspaper that Ms Hancock had flown at least two members of Parliament to India on her private jet to attend the wedding of a member of the Reddy family. Ms Rinehart is reportedly hoping to secure a $2 billion deal with the Reddy’s to purchase a stake in her coal mines.
After Lord Monckton’s appearance at the mining conference, he will go on to deliver the “Lang Hancock Lecture” at the University of Notre Dame, near Perth, thanks to sponsorship from Hancock Prospecting. Then it’s off for a dozen or so public talks, with tickets on sale from $25 to $60 each.
Presumably the Nazi slide will be left back at Lord Monckton’s Scottish mansion, although at least one venue – a German Club in Adelaide in South Australia – is now understandably reticent, reports AdelaideNow.
Invoking Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies is something of an area of expertise for Lord Monckton.
In 2009 at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, he described one group of young climate change campaigners as the “Hitler Youth”.
Interviewed through the shaky camera hand of DeSmogBlog’s own Brendan DeMelle, Lord Monckton calmly explained: “The number of people being killed by this misplaced belief in climate change is if anything greater than the number of people killed by Hitler.”
Oh Lordy. Strap yourself in, Australia.