Trial by fire for Q&A host Hamish Macdonald's first show

Trial by fire for Q&A host Hamish Macdonald's first show

Q&A has kicked off the new year with a fiery episode as New South Wales Liberal senator Jim Molan took the centre stage in the discussion on Australia’s bushfire crisis.

The ABC show returned on Monday night in Queanbeyan under new host Hamish Macdonald, with the panel focusing on the recent bushfire season. The audience consisted of community members of the fire-affected city.

Geophysicist and climatologist Michael Mann said the summer’s weather conditions were not the “new normal”, but Australia should join the global efforts to lower carbon emissions to prevent weather conditions.

“[For] every scientific institution in the world that’s weighed in on this matter, climate change is real,” Professor Mann said.

“It’s 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.”

Macdonald then asked the senator, “Jim Molan, do you accept the scientific view?”

“I certainly accept that the climate is changing, it has changed and it will change. As to whether it is human-induced climate change, my mind is open,” Molan said to boos and jeers from the audience.

“I respect, very much respect scientific opinion but every day across my desk comes enough information for me to say that there are other opinions.”

When asked what information he was relying on, Molan said, “I’m not relying on evidence, Hamish.”

The crowd erupted to laughter.

This bushfire season has burnt more than 18 million hectares of land across the country, UN Environment reported. More than 2,700 homes and an estimated 1 billion animals have been lost.

Andrew Constance, member for Bega and NSW Transport and Roads Minister, told the panel that he was traumatised from fighting fires.

“I’ve cried, I’ve been hugged, I’ve been loved, but the trauma of this is so profound and it’s affecting thousands of people across our regions and we need help,” Constance said.