Australian academics rally against Hitler jibe lord

28th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Dozens of Australian academics signed a letter Tuesday demanding a lecture by British climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton be axed after he compared the country's climate adviser to Hitler.

The open letter calls on Australia's Notre Dame University to cancel a lecture by Monckton Thursday, saying he stood for "the kind of ignorance and superstition that universities have a duty to counter".

"In hosting this lecture, Notre Dame University is undermining the academic community," the letter, seen by AFP, said.

The letter, started by Natalie Latter, a PhD student examining global ethics and climate change, has been penned as Monckton prepares to give a speech targeting the government's proposal for a carbon tax.

He is on a tour of Australia at the invitation of the "Climate Sceptics" -- a political party registered ahead of last year's national elections .

The speech is entitled "A Carbon Tax Will Bankrupt Australia".

The letter said Monckton's appearance was "betraying the integrity of our scientists and those who struggle to communicate the facts about climate change to the public.

"It is completely unacceptable for a university to be tacitly endorsing the views of an individual such as Lord Monckton. Our universities must have higher standards than this."

Monckton said last week during a speech in Los Angeles that Australia's top climate advisor, economist Ross Garnaut, held fascist views and expected people to "accept authority without question".

He then said "Heil Hitler, on we go" in a mock German accent while a swastika appeared on a screen by him.

Climate scientists at some of Australia's top universities have had to shift into high-security premises in recent months following death threats and harassment sparked by intense debate over the government's pollution tax.

The comments by Monckton, an outspoken former science adviser to former British PM Margaret Thatcher, reinforced the need for a stand against him, the letter added.

"We all support academic freedom and the freedom to express our ideas and beliefs," it said. "However, Notre Dame University has a responsibility to avoid promoting discredited views on an issue of public risk.

"Notre Dame's invitation to Lord Monckton makes a mockery of academic standards and the pursuit of evidence-based knowledge."

Monckton's remarks were also condemned by Prime Minister Julia Gillard as inappropriate and highly offensive, and opposition leader Tony Abbott rejected the comparison as "over the top".

© 2011 AFP

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