Australian commentator slams P.M. over climate change

By Alexander Rheeney ,

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. (Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer)

An Australian social and conservative political commentator has slammed Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi over his criticism of climate change skeptics. 

Andrew Bolt, who is a blogger and columnist at the News Corporation-owned Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne and is a co-presenter on Australia’s 2GB radio, decried the Prime Minister’s appeal to Australia to cut carbon emissions to save Pacific Island nations from climate change.

“Anyone who saw Samoa’s Prime Minister waddle to the podium of Sydney’s Lowy Institute last week should have known he was conning us." 

“No, it’s not global warming that’s the ‘single greatest threat to the … wellbeing of peoples of the Pacific’, as Tuilaepa Sailele bellowed while demanding that Australia have the ‘political guts’ to slash its emissions."

“Well, speaking of guts, friend, check your own. It should remind you far more Samoans are killed by what they stuff down their throats than by what Australians pump up their chimneys,” he said in a blog, which the Herald Sun published early this week. (read the blog).

The Prime Minister, who addressed the foreign policy think-tank days after Australia’s political crisis came to an end with the ascension of Scott Morrison as the new Prime Minister, challenged Australia to take the lead to address climate change in the region.

“We all know the problem, we all know the solutions, and all that is left would be some political courage, some political guts, to tell people of your country there is a certainty of disaster," Tuilaepa said.

But Mr Bolt refused to accept the argument by Samoa’s Prime Minister, saying: “Sure, Sailele may rant about how global warming is drowning Pacific islands and smashing them with monster cyclones, but that’s false, too. There is no evidence of more or worse cyclones in the Pacific. Samoa’s deadliest cyclone struck back in 1889, and its last category 4 cyclone was 27 years ago.”

While the Australian blogger and commentator has turned the screws on Tuilaepa, his views on Australian domestic and international issues has not been without controversy, with commentators and media watchers often describing his comments as racist.

Bob Howarth, an Australian-based Pacific media consultant and journalism educator, has described Mr Bolt’s attack on Tuilaepa as bias and racist.

“Bolt’s verbal attack on the Prime Minister of Samoa is typical of one of Australia’s most rightwing columnists with opinions reflecting the worst bias and outright racism that appeals to the most narrow-minded audience,” he told Samoa Observer last night.

The Prime Minister is currently in Nauru attending the 49th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit.

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