Malcolm Roberts, the Queensland One Nation candidate who seems set to be elected to the Senate, sees the world through the eyes of the archetypal conspiracist. Dark forces move with malign intent behind world events.
Climate science is a conspiracy cooked up by a secretive alliance of leading scientists and scientific bodies, including the CSIRIO and the Bureau of Meteorology that function as the Australian arms of a wider global plot centred on the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Roberts has a background in the mining industry and serves as the project manager of the Galileo Movement, the central denialist organisation in Australia. Its patron is broadcaster Alan Jones, and its panel of advisers is stacked with all of the usual suspects – Gina Reinhart favourite Ian Plimer, blogger Jo Nova, monarchist David Flint and even Lord Monckton. It claims the Sydney PR company Jackson Wells as its media adviser. Jackson Wells lists “reputation management” among its core services.
In a rambling “personal declaration of interests” Roberts discloses that his daughter’s horse Clancy eats only renewable foods and that his working methods “are based on understanding the Laws of Nature … and understanding the Human Condition.”
His work shows all the signs of what psychologists call conspiracist ideation, defined by Stephan Lewandowsky et al. as “the attempt to explain a significant political or social event as a secret plot by powerful individuals or organizations. The presumed conspirators are typically perceived as virtually omnipotent …”
Elders of Zion
Roberts is interesting because he bells the cat of climate denial. As Patrick Stokes has pointed out, he believes that behind the scientific conspiracy is a secret ring of international banking families. Speaking on behalf of the Galileo Movement, in 2012 Roberts told the Sydney Morning Herald that climate change science had been captured by “some of the major banking families in the world” who form a “tight-knit cabal”.
If that sounds like the toxic far-right claim about the global ambition of Jewish bankers then it is. Roberts seems to share the worldview of those who see the world’s political leaders as, in the words of one group, the puppets of “the Money Master — the Jew — sick, neurotic, carnal, haters of Christ”.
In a bizarre 135-page document titled “Why? Motives Driving Climate Fraud”, Roberts argues that international bankers are secretly pursuing their agenda of global control through environmentalism. He singles out the Rothschilds (of course), Goldman Sachs, the Rockefellers and the Warburg family.
Roberts’ embrace of the Jewish banker conspiracy has proven too much for fellow climate science denier Andrew Bolt, who in 2012 asked Roberts to name the banking families in question. Bolt did not publish Roberts’ response but did publish his reply:
“Two of the three most prominent and current banking families you’ve mentioned are Jewish, and the third is sometimes falsely assumed to be. Yes, this smacks too much of the Jewish world conspiracy theorising I’ve always loathed.”
Bolt asked that his name be removed as an adviser to the Galileo Movement.
I almost prefaced the last sentence with the words “to his credit”, but why should we congratulate a man for choosing to reject one mad conspiracy theory when he has devoted years of his life fostering another?
While Andrew Bolt may “despise” Jewish world conspiracy theories, there is nothing inconsistent in Roberts’ position if you are prone to conspiracist ideation.
If you believe climate science is a giant conspiracy drawing together the world’s leading climate scientists, along with the IPCC, various scientific academies, environmental organisations and governments around the world – as Andrew Bolt does, along with championing the weirdest of the New World Order conspiracy theorists, Christopher Monckton – it is natural then to ask who or what lies behind and organises this conspiracy to deceive and what their ultimate objective might be?
Settling on Jewish bankers, known to be bent on world domination, makes sense.
Hanson world in Canberra
The global plot promoted by Malcolm Roberts is not some kind of outlier in Hanson world. As Robert Manne pointed out in 1998, Hanson’s statement of her worldview, set out in her tome The Truth, spells out with breath-taking candour every crazed far-right belief in the “New World Order”. It makes Roberts’ more recent statements appear positively restrained.
So the fringe has found its way to the centre, and with powerful support. Among many like-minded others, Maurice Newman, once a senior business adviser to Tony Abbott, is given free rein to espouse his froth-at-the-mouth conspiracy theories on the pages of The Australian, which more and more resembles that other Murdoch outlet for paranoia, Fox News.
And there can be no doubt that Roberts’ views will be welcomed by a significant minority of Coalition parliamentarians who support Hanson’s call for an inquiry into the “corrupt” Bureau of Meteorology and for the teaching of climate denial in schools.
And we laugh at Donald Trump.
Authors: Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics, Centre For Applied Philosophy & Public Ethics (CAPPE), Charles Sturt University