As I wrote in yesterday’s Crikey, the media were happy to give Kevin Rudd a free pass when he claimed that he was being tough in demanding Gary Gray be preselected for Brand when in fact Gray had no opponents.

But the media have failed to highlight Gray’s well known associations with climate change denialism, or how this squares with Rudd’s contention, made as recently as Tuesday night on the 7.30 Report, that the government has no credibility on climate change issues because ministers have only recently accepted that it’s happening.

Writing in political blog Larvatus Prodeo, Griffith University political scientist Dr Paul Norton examines Gray’s credentials:

During his time as ALP National Secretary, Gray distinguished himself as one of the most case-hardened anti-environmentalists in the Labor Party. Early in his time in that job, Gray declared in an interview that global warming was “pop science” and availed himself of the usual tired jokes about long-footed potaroos. The relationship between federal Labor and the environmental movement was at an all-time low throughout Gray’s time as National Secretary.

After leaving that job, Gray was a founder of the greenhouse denialist Lavoisier Group, and made no secret of his disapproval of former Western Australian Premier Geoff Gallop’s decision to preserve the old growth forests of south-west WA. He has never renounced his greenhouse denialist views.

Kevin Rudd wants to run heavily on climate change, seeing this as a key point of differentiation with the Howard government. Since Howard has now sniffed the wind on this issue, a vital plank of Rudd’s argument is pointing to how statements by ministers such as Ian McFarlane show that the government has dragged its heels. If climate change denialism is so indicative of a lack of credibility on environmental issues, how does Rudd explain his personal endorsement of Gary Gray’s candidacy?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey