Celia Hammond; surprisingly ignorant? Or worse?

When I wrote this page the federal seat of Curtin was soon to be vacated by Julie Bishop and Celia Hammond had been preselected as the Liberal candidate. She was duly elected to represent Curtin for the Australian Liberal Party.

Professor Hammond came into politics from the Vice Chancellorship of Notre Dame University in Western Australia, where she was previously Head of the School of Law. She held the vice-chancellorship from 2008 to 2019.

You would hope that such a person would be well informed and have high moral standards; for that matter, you would hope that all aspiring politicians would be well informed on such a fundamentally important subject for the Australian people and the world's future as climate change.

The burning of fossil fuels is widely recognised as the main cause of climate change, ocean acidification, sea level rise and ocean warming. The air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels kills millions of people world-wide each year. No well informed person would doubt any of this.

This page was written 2019/03/19, last edited 2022/12/06
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

Red stringybark trees suffering from an exceptionally hot and dry summer and autumn
Red stringybark
Photo taken in Spring Gully Conservation Park, 2008/05/11. There was an exceptionally hot and dry summer and autumn in that year, causing the last remnant of red stringybark trees in South Australia to defoliate. This is just one impact of climate change in Australia; it happens to be within a few kilometres of my home in the Clare Valley of SA.

Liberals snub Julie Bishop's request

Andrew Tillett, writing in the Financial Review, 2019/03/11 stated that Liberal preselectors ignored long serving and popular Minister for Foreign Affaires and deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop's request for a moderate candidate. Ms Bishop felt that a moderate would better aligned with the progressive views of local voters than a right-wing candidate.
Professor Hammond was the subject of an article in The Australian in mid March 2019.

The article stated that she rejected the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels was the main factor behind global warming. She was quoted as saying:

"I believe man has contributed in some way to climate change – the exact extent is probably very minimal"
The reporter then asked whether her ­belief was backed by scientific evidence. She said:
"I don’t believe it goes against the science. There is a lot of science and a lot of contradictory science."
All well informed readers will be aware that the science on the causes of climate change is well settled. For Professor Hammond to say that it is contradictory is either a lie or an admission of gross ignorance on the subject; see my page on Why accept climate science?

As mentioned elsewhere on this page I twice attempted to contact Ms Hammond for comment at the time of writing this page. I did not receive a reply.

Well suited for a position in the Federal Liberal front bench

While Professor Hammond's background is in law, surely it strains any thinking person's credulity that with her university background she could be this ignorant of the science around such a fundamentally important subject as climate science.

The article in The Australian came out just a few days after tens of thousands of Australian kids, and enormously more in about a hundred countries around the world, seemingly all much better informed than Professor Hammond, took a day off school or university to strike for action on climate change.

Professor Hammond, with her abysmal ignorance or denial of science will be well suited to a position on a Morrison led opposition front bench following the May election.

I have argued elsewhere that to oppose action on climate change is a crime against humanity and that when a person in a position of power knowingly lies to slow action on climate change he or she is a party to the greatest crime in the history of humanity. On present indications, Professor Hammond aims to be one such person.


What does this tell us about Notre Dame University?

The fact that a past vice chancellor and head of the School of Law at a Western Australian university either has a very low standard of honesty or is very poorly informed cannot reflect well on that university. Professor Hammond was vice-chancellor for 11 years, roughly 2008-2019.

Some more questions

Could it be that Ms Hammond, in her time as vice chancellor, didn't bother consulting relevant people in the science faculty who would surely have known the facts about climate change?

Or was it a very small science faculty with few scientists having any knowledge of climate change? Hard to believe.

Or were the members of the science faculty hand picked for their blindness and climate science denial?

Climate science denier Christopher Monckton invited to Notre Dame

Notorious climate science denier Christopher Monckton was invited to speak at Notre Dame back in 2011. Professor Hammond was vice-chancellor at the time, so it seems likely that she would have been the source of the invitation, even if not, she surely would have had to have been consulted and approved the invitation. As vice-chancellor she had a responsibility to inform herself of the facts of climate change science before approving such a controversial invitation. Why did she not?

What does this tell us about the federal Liberal party in 2019?

Of course there is no surprise in any one person among the federal Liberals being a science denier, but what is more telling is that this particular science denier was selected by a panel of federal Liberals who must have been aware of her apparently wilful ignorance. It suggests that even in 2019 the party is still dominated by people who are incapable of accepting climate science and the fact that most Australians want action to reduce climate changing emissions.

Is Professor Hammond making a choice she will regret?

I have asked on another page on this site "Why would you do that?" Why would anyone choose to go down in history as a liar and a criminal by dishonestly trying to stop desperately needed action to reduce the climate change disaster? Are the very temporary and selfish gains worth it? Surely there are more important things in life than income and position; things such as contribution to one's society and ethical standards?

Professor Hammond contacted for comment

I sent a Facebook message to Professor Hammond informing her of this page and inviting comment on 2019/03/19.

After not receiving a response I contacted Professor Hammond in a Facebook message again on 2019/03/22.

As of 2020/08/22 I had not received any reply from Professor Hammond. Perhaps this is not surprising as it would be very hard for her to explain her ignorance on climate change, if it is ignorance, considering her eleven years as a university vice-chancellor.

On 2022/01/10 I contacted Ms Hammond again, this time via her parliamentary email address (Celia.Hammond.MP@aph.gov.au). I suggested that if she found anything inaccurate in this page she could correct it. Professor Hammond did reply, and apologised for having missed my previous attempts to contact her. Significantly she wrote:

"I share concerns about the impact of climate change on our environment – now and in the future. I am of the view that we have a responsibility to protect our environment for future generations and it is essential that all Australians play a part in reducing greenhouse emissions. I am strongly in favour of (and advocate for) positive, responsible, evidence-based and effective steps being taken to reduce our emissions and increase the use of renewable and clean energy - both individually and as a country. In short, the selected quotes attributed to me in the Australian in 2019 do not accurately reflect my view."
I note that she didn't say that she was misquoted in The Australian. In light of this apparent contradiction, how can I, or anyone, know what her true position is on climate change science?

As ignorant as Pauline Hanson?

By claiming that the present catastrophic and unprecedented rate of climate change has nothing, or very little, to do with Man's activities Professor Hammond has placed herself in a group of very ignorant people that notably includes Pauline Hanson.

This section added

Ms Hammond loses her seat to Kate Chaney

Ms Hammond lost what was her "safe Liberal seat" to community independent Kate Chaney in the May 2022 election, and I doubt that there has ever been a more justified change of seat holder.

I congratulated Ms Chaney shortly after the election and I heard and saw her speak at the World Renewable Energy Congress at Murdoch University on 2022/12/06. The difference in honesty, environmental credibility and ethical standards between the two struck me as like the contrast between black and white. While Ms Hammond seems to have been a typical climate science denying Liberal party hack, or at best, ambiguous in her stance, Ms Chaney is doing her best for the future of the planet and is not beholden to any political party - a true independent.

Related pages

On this site...

Several links are scattered through the text above and many are provided in the other pages on my site.

Relating to government...

Australian governments...

Party policy...
Liberals war on renewables

Angus Taylor; a gobsmackingly dishonest Environment Minister

Australia's energy future

End of coal: why the coal industry has a very limited future.

Ethics: a subject that many in the Morrison government would do well to learn about.

A green or a black future

Greenhouse/climate change: the greatest threat currently facing mankind.

Killer coal: how the burning of coal kills millions of people world-wide each year.

Notre Dame University: can a university headed by a climate science denialist provide a good education, especially in science?

Science denial and climate change

Selfishness or altruism?: self or all?

South Australia's success in changing toward renewable energy

Stop These Things; a very dishonest anti-wind power Web site admired by, and contributed to by, Mr Taylor

Who wants renewable energy?

Why accept climate science

Why support wind power

Why would you?; why choose to be despised by future generations?

Wind power lies; Mr Taylor features strongly

Wind power opposition: almost universally dishonest.

On the Internet...

The administrator of the Blot Report wrote a piece about Professor Hammond's bizarre beliefs and statements on 2019/03/19. Quoting a small part:
"Hammond has demonstrated that she either believes that all Australia’s climate scientists, the Bureau of Meteorology, and the Academy of Science are not capable of understanding the climate, or are all involved in a massive conspiracy."

Adam Morton wrote a piece for The Guardian, 2019/03/01, titled "Out on its own: Australia the only country to use climate funding to upgrade coal-fired plants".

RenewEconomy, Lip service and lies: Coalition’s response to the IPCC report; written by Joshua S Hill, 2018/10/12.

RenewEconomy, the Morrison Government's "breathtakingly stupid response to IPCC climate report", by Giles Parkinson, 2018/10/09.

Xihhua is one of many news organisations that have reported on British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta's statement that he can show that renewable are cheaper than coal for electricity generation.

The Conversation factcheck, 2017/08/14, concluded that while power from existing coal-fired power stations is cheaper than new-built wind power, "as things stand today – wind power would be cheaper than coal as a new-build source of electricity." Prices for wind and particularly solar PV power continue to fall.

The Conversation reported that "Big firms voice lack of faith in ‘cumbersome’ and ‘impractical’ Emissions Reduction Fund", while Environment Minister Melissa Price wanted to continue with it.