Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie maintains media reports on climate change comments are inaccurate

David Gillespie was reported to have suggested people in his electorate didn't bring up the issue of climate change.
David Gillespie was reported to have suggested people in his electorate didn't bring up the issue of climate change.

Reports that Lyne MP Dr David Gillespie suggested people in his electorate did not raise the issue of climate change with him have been met with disbelief and condemnation.

The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review and The Guardian all reported that Dr Gillespie and Barnaby Joyce claimed at a Nationals party room meeting, constituents in their electorates did not want more action on climate change. The reports followed Joyce's failed bid to replace Michael McCormack as leader.

SMH political and international editor, Peter Hartcher, wrote: "(Barnaby) Joyce and David Gillespie said people in their electorates didn't bring up climate change, 'so we shouldn't be misled by the media and the Green left into thinking this is a bigger issue than it really is'."

He is either misinformed or not listening to the voters.

John Watts, Groundswell Gloucester

Bonny Hills resident, Catherine Potts, was shocked when she read the report in the February 8 edition of the SMH.

"It made me sit up in bed and spill my tea," she said.

"I was flabbergasted and angry."

In response, Ms Potts wrote to both Dr Gillespie and a number of Australian Community Media publications across the region.

"If you feel this does not reflect your views on climate change or you think that your local member could be being misrepresented and falsely accused of denying the concerns constituents of Lyne have concerning climate change in his electorate, then I encourage you to contact the Member for Lyne to express your views," she wrote.

Dr Gillespie was contacted about the reports but declined to respond beyond saying: "The report is inaccurate."

Ms Potts believed this was an evasive response.

"I think he's dodging the issue," she said.

The Gloucester Knitting Nannas meet every Friday outside David Gillespie's Taree office to demand he takes more action on climate change.

The Gloucester Knitting Nannas meet every Friday outside David Gillespie's Taree office to demand he takes more action on climate change.

Member of the MidCoast Knitting Nannas, Linda Gill, said it was highly disappointing to read that Dr Gillespie had allegedly misrepresented the sentiments of a significant proportion of his electorate.

The group hold climate protests outside Dr Gillespie's office in Taree every Friday.

Groundswell Gloucester, the community group who helped stop the contentious Rocky Hill coalmine from going ahead in Gloucester, also responded to the reports.

"It is difficult to understand how Dr Gillespie could possibly suggest that voters in the electorate of Lyne are not very concerned about climate change, particularly when the communities within the seat of Lyne were recently so badly hit by drought and bushfires," Groundswell spokesperson John Watts said.

"He is either misinformed or not listening to the voters."

Ms Gill called on Dr Gillespie to clarify his position.

"Whether the reports were inaccurate or not, he needs to comment," she said.

"He needs to tell the electorate where he stands on climate change and what he's going to do about it."

But she also believed there was a positive side to the controversy Dr Gillespie's alleged comments had caused.

"The positive thing is more people are becoming more aware in this electorate," Ms Gill said.

"It brings more attention to it."

A nationwide ABC survey of 54,000 people in 2019 found that 72 per cent of those surveyed believed climate change was a problem for them personally.

It emerged as the leading cause for concern among the survey's participants, rating higher than both saving for retirement and health.

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