• External Contributor

The worst thing about Craig Kelly

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

In the interest of being productive, I won't spend minutes of your precious time just complaining about this man. But I will leave you with this meme before diving into the facts about what MP Kelly believes, how wide his reach is, and how he uses fallacy to 'prove' his points.

Some background facts

  1. Tanya Plibersek called Craig Kelly a 'nong'. Okay, now I will get serious.

  2. MP Kelly is a member of the Liberal Party and the elected member for Hughes in New South Wales, and has been since August 2010.

  3. Kelly is a climate change denier, and has recently posted to his Facebook page (of almost 95 000 people) about places all over the world experiencing record low temperatures, using it as 'proof' that climate change doesn't exist, of course conveniently forgetting that climate change causes extreme temperatures in both directions. What a nong honestly.

  4. Kelly is continuously sharing articles his Facebook pages that allege drugs hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin are effective at treating COVID-19 and minimise the risk of death for those with Coronavirus. Both drugs have not been adequately tested for use against COVID and medical experts and bodies have labelled their use dangerous. Kelly is convinced the ABC, Labor, and US Democrats are involved in a conspiracy to keep COVID patients from taking the drugs as a cure. To that, I say 1. Why the F would they do that?, and 2. Nong.

  5. MP Nong was on Pete Evans' podcast, where Evans took the time to thank him for "fighting for us", with 'us' being anti-vaxxers and health conspirators with no medical training or qualifications.

  6. Kelly is a regular user of the Proof by Example logical fallacy, where he will use one example to 'prove' his point, ie. pointing to a cold snap in the UK to 'prove' climate change doesn't exist, or highlighting one doctor who recommends the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID.

The big problem

Okay, so here's the biggest problem with all of this. Kelly has a significant platform. It's easy for most of us to think what a nong, share a meme, and move on, or talk to our politically aligned friends about the many, many issues with people like Craig Kelly. But he is extremely powerful. Endorsement from Pete Evans, a very well known public figure with a large and loyal following, has made him even more so.

When dealing with characters like Craig Kelly, and the same can be said about Pete Evans and Donald Trump, the most dangerous thing about them is their platform and influence. This, of course, is why Twitter, then every social media platform, banned Trump. By removing his ability to reach supporters, it somewhat disarms him. When old mate down the road with 4 followers on Twitter has some problematic views, is anti-vax, and believes sunscreen will kill him, risk is pretty low. He's got no platform. But Kelly has a massive audience who holds on to every word he says.

Conservative Media is on Team Nong

Yes, I'm going to talk about Murdoch again. This guy is everywhere all the time, and I am Tired. Of. It. His trusty newspapers have been defending Craig Kelly. Obviously. Almost the minute the video of Plibersek and Kelly having what most medias have been calling a 'spat' in the hallways of Parliament, the conservative media came out guns blazing. The likes of the Herald Sun (the most read Saturday paper in the country), and The Australian (the most popular daily newspaper in the country) have rushed to his defense, inferring he's simply another 'victim' of the nasty left's cancel culture. Most confusingly, The Australian's article states that 'the green Left' is trying to silence him. Who is the 'green Left'? Is it The Greens? Why the lower case g? Why the capital L? In this instance, Labor is leading the movement against him. Maybe the poor people at The Australian are so overworked and underpaid that they've lost the ability to fact check.

Three headlines from the past 24 hours

News Corp owns both the Herald Sun and The Australian, and is of course owned by famous climate change denier Rupert Murdoch. His companies have been responsible for giving air time to people like Donald Trump and platforms for racist and otherwise bigoted views and conspiracies. The media is theoretically around to hold people like politicians accountable, and while I believe this idea is a little unrealistic, as we all have political leanings and biases, a line in the sand must be drawn.

Parts of the conservative right have adopted the term 'cancel culture' as a get out of jail free card for people who have been apparently 'cancelled'. In reality, there are stacks of people on the left who are anti-cancel culture, and 99% of the time, people who get 'cancelled' come back to the same or a similar level of fame than before. The right-wing media now just uses the term as clickbait for their followers, after successfully giving it a new definition.

The issue with the way The Australian and the Herald Sun have reported on Kelly is that it's not based in any kind of fact. The left isn't trying to 'cancel' Kelly. I don't even know how one would 'cancel' an elected official, because he's sure as hell not going away any time soon (we can only hope he won't get re-elected). These media outlets are claiming that Labor has no reason for publicly making a case against Kelly, when in fact, they have been very clear: he's pedalling misinformation to a huge group of followers. Whether or not he fully aligns himself with Pete Evans' views, he's now publicly affiliated with the disgraced chef (not a health professional) who was ditched by Channel Ten, Coles, and Woolworths in November for sharing a neo-Nazi symbol on his Facebook page. One can only ask why the Liberal MP would want to so closely associate with such a person.

ScoMo finally reprimands Kelly. Kind of.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison dragged his feet distancing himself from Kelly, but finally said

"It is true that views expressed by the member for Hughes do not align with my views, or the views of advice that has been provided to me by the Chief Medical Officer"

after he allegedly pulled Kelly into the Prime Ministerial office for a 'dressing down'. Following this, Kelly released a statement saying he would support the governments' COVID vaccine rollout. Thanks nong, really nice of you to say.

Kelly, up until now, had enjoyed the support of the PM in the form of ScoMo's refusal to say anything about his continuous spouting of easily disproved conspiracy theories. Scott Morrison is not a climate change denier (he just refuses to take action for god knows what reason), but he won't pull Kelly up for spreading climate change denial propaganda. ScoMo has been talking about and supporting the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine for months, but he refused to pull Kelly into line until he absolutely had no choice. I've found myself wondering why this is. Why would ScoMo refuse to handle someone who is arguably a threat to his party, and I've come up with a couple of potential reasons.

  • He thinks it will bring in a niche voter base (anti-vaxxers and conspirators)

  • He's not interested in accountability nor the responsibility of elected officials to look after the community

  • He's weak as a leader and simply didn't do anything

At this point, I'm not sure which option it is and which would be worse. The first two imply the PM has made a specific effort to keep the peace and keep Kelly onside, but the third implies a 'meh' attitude. Both are dangerous and deeply concerning in their own way.

It should also be noted that the Liberal Party, Craig Kelly's party, is hardly an extremist group. Their political positioning isn't far from centre. One would assume he and his views would be more at home in a more radical party like One Nation or if he was a whacky independent. The reality is is that this man with his outlandish ideas is in a major party, the major party in fact. His party is in charge of our country.

In summary

As nong-y as he may be, Craig Kelly is one to watch. He's a loose cannon, probably drunk with power, and is no doubt loving the amount off attention he's getting. While anyone with eyes can tell that Plibersek was the more rational and measured party in their hallway debate, Kelly still has a huge group of followers who hang on his every word. And that group is probably growing by the day.