New Coalition MP was founding member of club promoting climate science denial | Queensland politics

The new federal MP for the Queensland seat of Flynn was a founding member of a club formed to promote climate science denial, and was a signatory to an international statement claiming “there is no climate emergency”.

Colin Boyce did not respond to questions as to whether he is still a member of the Saltbush Club, a group which published commentary during the election campaign that said the climate crisis is “a fraud”.

He would not say whether he still supported the “world climate declaration”, which he signed in 2019 alongside figures such as Ian Plimer. At the time he was the only Australian MP – state or federal – to publicly support the document, which repeats long-debunked talking points on climate change that are contradicted by scientific institutions and academies around the world.

Boyce, a one-time boilermaker who resigned as a Queensland MP to run for the federal parliament, shot to prominence during the election campaign when he said the Coalition’s net zero pledge was “flexible” and left “wiggle room”.

A search of Queensland Hansard showed that in his four and a half years in state parliament Boyce repeatedly criticised and rejected climate science.

In a 2019 speech, Boyce claimed that pollution-prevention measures in the Great Barrier Reef catchment were “based on flawed, manipulated science that is driven by a socialist political agenda”.

During the same speech he said: “I believe in climate change. It is a normal, cyclic event that has been happening for millions of years and will continue to happen.”

“Climate alarmists make outrageous claims that we will all die from sea level rise, temperature rise and climate events and are being called out. Their doomsday predictions, including the demise of the Great Barrier Reef, have not eventuated.”

In a 2018 speech, he read into Hansard an article by Viv Forbes, a Queensland-based coalmining millionaire and one of the key figures of the Saltbush Club. The article claimed that burning fossil fuels created “plant food” and that “we should celebrate, not fear, the ‘modern warm era’”.

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In 2021, after an explosion at the Callide coal-fired power station in Boyce’s electorate, he argued for the construction of a new coal plant. He said the argument against building new coal plants was “driven by the mind-numbing, eco-Marxist millennials and upper middle-class ‘wokes’ who have been indoctrinated with some quasi-religious belief that coal is bad and carbon dioxide is poisoning the planet”.

Boyce has previously paid for Facebook ads that call renewable energy “a fantasy”.

On Tuesday, Labor ministers in the Queensland parliament used question time to lampoon Boyce, who will become Queensland’s newest federal LNP MP after an election where the Coalition lost heartland seats to the Greens and climate-conscious independents.

“Once again, the climate change deniers, the science sceptics and the anti-vaxxers in the Queensland LNP helped wreck the federal coalition and destroy the … federal Liberal party on the way,” the treasurer, Cameron Dick, told parliament.

“They ensured that Josh Frydenberg lost his seat. And who did Australia get in return? Colin Boyce.”

Boyce enters the federal parliament as the decimated ranks of Liberal moderates attempt to bring the party back to the centre. One expessed concern that Boyce, who will sit with the Nationals, has the potential to further damage the Coalition’s ability to appeal to lost voters.

A Queensland LNP state MP said “we used to hold our breath” when Boyce stood up to speak.

“He’s Canberra’s problem now,” they said.

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