Q&A: James McGrath furious at everything, silent on alleged Adani threat
The Coalition senator James McGrath has not denied threatening to call for the resignation of the environment minister, Melissa Price, if she had not signed off on approvals for the Adani coalmine project before the election was called.
Price approved the mine’s groundwater management plan last week after internal pressure from Queensland colleagues.
Asked on ABC TV’s Q&A program on Monday night about the accuracy of the media reports, McGrath said four times: “I don’t talk about private conversations.”
The program, hosted in Brisbane, began with a spot of wishful thinking from one questioner, who pleaded with McGrath, Labor’s Terri Butler, the Greens senator Larissa Waters and the One Nation Senate candidate Malcolm Roberts to refrain from aggressive attacks.
ABC Q&A (@QandA)
“I want to be civil,” Butler said. “I think we can achieve that tonight … no matter what your politics, we’re all going to be civil.”
She was quite far off the mark.
Based on Roberts’ previous Q&A appearance, expectations were low for the quality of debate about climate change.
But after mounting a defence of One Nation’s guns policy and the US trip of James Ashby and Steve Dickson, Roberts was mostly outshone by an aggressive McGrath.
McGrath was furious when Waters – who was wearing Stop Adani earrings – said the the Coalition supported the coal project only because of political donations.
The company gave $50,000 to the Liberal party and One Nation, according to the most recently released disclosures to the Australian Electoral Commission.
“That’s actually offensive … that a political party will take a position based on a donation,” McGrath yelled.
The pair also sparred over a question about allegedly rising racist sentiment in the Coalition.
ABC Q&A (@QandA)
“The Liberal National party is a party for all Queenslanders regardless of where you come from and how long you’ve been here,” McGrath insisted.
“As long as you share our values – and one of our values is it’s inclusivity, and we’re colour blind when it comes to the colour of your own skin … And I’m sure the Greens and I hope Labor would agree with that.”
“I’m not sure Peter Dutton would,” Waters retorted.
“I beg your pardon. Are you serious?” McGrath said.
When Waters pointed to Dutton’s immigration detention policies to justify the racist claim, McGrath exploded in rage.
“Where are your tears for those people who drowned at sea and were eaten by the sharks? Don’t come here with your crocodile tears talking to me about what Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison did. They made sure the borders of Australia were safe and secure,” McGrath bellowed.
“I’ll ask you not to shout,” the host, Virginia Trioli, responded.
McGrath even got angry with the studio audience when there was applause for a Greens policy to phase out coal by 2030.
“You clapped the destruction of the Queensland economy,” McGrath said. “You’ve clapped mass unemployment.”
Later Waters was asked whether she condoned the actions of vegans who staged blockades around the country and entered farm properties.
When she said she was a strong supporter of the right to protest but acknowledged “going into people’s homes is a little too far”, McGrath angrily invited people to target her home.
ABC Q&A (@QandA)
“A little too far? It’s home invasion,” he thundered.
“Let them go to your house. What’s your address? Put your address out there and let the farmers go to your house. That’s what’s happened to farmers … they have had these monsters, these eco-criminals invade their homes. Shame on you for defending them.”
“I’m sure I’ve left you with ringing in your ears,” Trioli said as she closed the show.