‘Trainwreck’: Crowd’s furious jeers at MP
Hamish Macdonald's first episode hosting Q&A has been a firey one, forcing the TV veteran to intervene on numerous occasions and call for calm.
Q&A returned on Monday night with a bushfire special, focusing on communities who had lost everything in our unprecedented 2019/20 fire season.
The heartbreak and emotion was evident in the hundreds of people sitting in the crowd and on the face of NSW MP Andrew Constance, who saw his Malua Bay community devastated by fires.
Most of the people asking questions had either lost everything in recent months to fires or were in communities that did.
Mr Constance, who admitted tonight he'd be seeking counselling to help him through his harrowing experience, has been praised for his honesty online.
It’s very rare to see genuine emotion from politicians. What’s happening now with @AndrewConstance on @QandA is remarkable. “I’m going to need proper counselling,” he says, after witnessing the South Coast bushfires. #auspol #australia #AustraliaBurns #qanda— Jason Om (@jason_om) February 3, 2020
But it was one person on the panel - Liberal MP Jim Molan - that had the crowd particularly fired up.
Mr Molan was heckled and jeered at throughout the night for his comments on the bushfire season and climate change.
In one particularly angry exchange, Mr Molan was asked if he agreed with renowned American climate scientist Michael Mann that "climate change is real and human caused".
"It's already leading to disastrous impacts here in Australia and around the rest of the world. And it will get much worse if we don't act," Mr Mann told the crowd.
Following the climate scientist's comment, Mr Molan took a deep breath before addressing his opinion on climate change.
"I accept the climate is changing. It has changed and it will change … and what it's producing is hotter and drier weather and a hotter and drier country.
"What's causing that?" Macdonald cut in.
"As to whether it is human-induced climate change is …," Mr Molan started before loud heckling from the crowd cut him off.
"Thank you," he continued.
"As to human-induced climate … to whether it is human-induced climate change, my mind is open. This is not the key question. The key question is what are you going to do about it?"
"I'm sorry, Senator, but that was my question," Macdonald replied.
"Is [that] what you think is causing it? Why is your mind open?"
Mr Molan went on to say that "other opinions" had been coming across his desk.
"Michael might say that the science is settled. And I respect very much scientific opinion but every day across my desk comes enough information for me to say that there are other opinions," he said.
When Macdonald questioned what exact information the MP had received, he failed to get a response before the crowd heckled Mr Molan again.
"I see so much that, I'm a very practical man, Hamish. I'm going to get out there and do things," Mr Molan said, before trailing off.
"The one thing that I agree with Michael is that climate change and our policies in relation to climate change are designed to mitigate the risk. It's very difficult to mitigate the risk. You can go back and look for the last 100 years how or why it started. If we can't mitigate risk, then we've got to adapt. And that's the key to what they're doing. We are adapting."
But Macdonald wasn't satisfied with the answer and continued pushing.
"You haven't answered the question. You said you get information across your desk every day which leads you to doubt or be open-minded about the science," he said.
"I am open minded," Mr Molan replied.
Macdonald: "What is that information?"
"It's a range of information which goes," Mr Molan started, before the crowd laughed and jeered at the MP again.
The fury from the crowd became so loud and obvious Macdonald was forced to cut in.
"Sorry. Could we just respectfully listen to this question," Macdonald pleaded.
"What is the evidence that you are relying on?"
"I'm not relying on evidence, Hamish," Mr Molan replied, causing the crowd to erupt into laughter.
"You said it. You said it. I would love to be convinced one way or the other."
The peculiar comment from Mr Molan caused climate scientist Mr Mann to dryly respond to the MP.
"Come on now, mate," Mr Mann said, putting on an Australian accent.
"You should keep an open mind but not so open that your brain falls out."
Mr Molan's bumbling attempt to explain his opinion on climate change was met with similar confusion and anger on social media.
Jim Molan out here denying human-induced climate change on #QandA in front of a packed auditorium full of people who have lost their homes, loved ones... everything.— jackson ryan 🙏 (@dctrjack) February 3, 2020
Jim Molan still debating whether climate change is “human induced”. #QandA 🙄— Mariam Veiszadeh (@MariamVeiszadeh) February 3, 2020