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Liberal MP says fuel load not climate change driving bushfires

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A federal MP insists he has not embarrassed the government after denying the links between climate change and Australia’s bushfires in a UK television interview.

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Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has doubled down after being challenged about the government’s handling of the crisis by British host Piers Morgan.

“He didn’t want to hear the truth, he didn’t want to hear the facts,” Kelly told the ABC on Tuesday.

Kelly repeated the disputed claim on the UK morning show that high fuel loads were mainly to blame for the scale of the fires.

“You have to look at the science and what our scientists are telling us,” Kelly said.

He also claimed there was no evidence to suggest a long-term trend towards a warming climate.

Good Morning Britain host Laura Tobin called Kelly a “climate denier” with Piers Morgan telling the MP to “wake up”.

“You are facing now one of the greatest crises you have ever faced, and there is you… who still doesn’t think this has anything to do with a heating up planet,” Morgan said.

“Climate change and global warming are real and Australia right now is showing the entire world just how devastating it is.”

Kelly claimed Morgan “didn’t want to hear the facts” and “the weather girl had no idea what she was talking about”.

He also defended Scott Morrison’s holiday in Hawaii while the fires were underway.

“The ultimate responsibility for fighting fires is the state premiers and the state emergency services,” Kelly said.

“The only thing the national leader can actually do on this is basically wait until he gets response from those state premiers asking for more resources.”

Kelly denied embarrassing the government with the interview, despite his comments putting him at odds with the prime minister.

“The only people who are denying things are those that think … these bushfires could have been stopped if we had sent more money to China to buy more solar panels,” Kelly told ABC.

He said Australia’s resources were limited and needed to prioritise resources towards hazard reduction rather than renewable energy infrastructure.

The prime minister claimed on Sunday his government had always made the connection between climate change and extreme weather conditions.

Scientists have disputed claims a lack of hazard reduction burns have led to the size of the bushfires, with ex-fire chiefs blaming the effects of climate change.

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