Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has hit out at ABC’s QandA program, calling its move to include Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan on its Thursday night panel “shameful”.
Mr Turnbull joined a slew of people who took to social media overnight to slam the senator’s appearance, with some viewers saying they “turned off the TV in disgust”.
Mr Canavan raised eyebrows on the show when he labelled the United Nation’s alarming new climate change report as “fear porn”.
While the senator has cast doubt over climate science in the past, he said he agreed "overall" with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) findings.
The report says the planet’s temperature will increase by 1.5C by 2030 if drastic action is not taken.
"One of the IPCC authors was quoted saying he hoped this report would scare people so it would help change their vote," Senator Canavan told the panel.
It came after a viewer questioned how the government is going to help reduce emissions while Australians like him “hold the hose” – a pointed reference to the prime minister's excuse for holidaying in Hawaii during Australia's horror bushfires in 2019.
"That doesn't sound like science to me and it's a great shame," Mr Canavan said.
"It's very sad the IPCC who once did very, very good work, and I do agree with their overall findings on climate change, but now it has descended into something that's much more like spin than science.
"You saw the spin over the past week as they drip-fed the fear porn about this, rather than just release the science."
Senator Canavan went on to declare himself a supporter of coal-powered energy before saying “the IPCC projections are loopy, they're out of control.”
— Malcolm Turnbull 💉💉 (@TurnbullMalcolm) August 12, 2021
Angry viewers were quick to call out the government backbencher on Twitter for being “deliberately ignorant”, while others did not mince their words about the ABC and questioned why the broadcaster gave him air time to dispute climate science.
“Thanks for nothing QandA. After a week when so many rational people are white hot angry with the Morrison-Barnaby response to the IPCC ‘code red’ you lead with Canavan, the latest overexposed Coalition backbench climate change denier,” journalist Margo Kingston wrote, prompting a reply from Mr Turnbull.
“And apparently not one climate scientist could be found to go on the show. So Canavan’s nonsense goes un-rebutted by anyone with real expertise in the science - Shameful,” the former PM said.
— QandA (@QandA) August 12, 2021
Even a former ABC presenter took aim at the public broadcaster’s decision.
“TV show idea: QandA but with guests who know things about the subject being discussed,” tweeted Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, who was a presenter on ABC TV show Stargazing Live.
One male viewer claimed QandA was “trying to flush its reputation down the toilet”.
“The planet is burning. Dying. And QandA serves up arse clowns like Canavan,” another person wrote.
“It’s like inviting a Japanese bomber pilot onto the ABC in 1942 to ‘bring some balance to the debate’ over the bombing of Darwin.”
A handful of viewers said they were glad Senator Canavan was included on the panel because “it made him out to be the charlatan he is”.
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