Malcolm Roberts (politician)
|Senator for Queensland|
|Assumed office |
1 July 2019
2 July 2016 – 27 October 2017
|Succeeded by||Fraser Anning|
Malcolm Ieuan Roberts
3 May 1955
Disergarh, West Bengal, India
|Political party||Pauline Hanson's One Nation|
|Education||Brisbane Grammar School|
|Alma mater||University of Queensland|
University of Chicago
(Booth School of Business)
(Conscious Pty Ltd)
Malcolm Ieuan Roberts (born 3 May 1955) is an Australian politician for Pauline Hanson's One Nation. He sat as a member of the Australian Senate, representing Queensland, until his 2016 election was declared invalid by the High Court of Australia in 2017. He was then elected Senator for Queensland in the 2019 Australian federal election.
Before going into politics, Roberts was a coal mining engineer and a businessman.
Roberts is also famous for his climate change denial, and his advocacy of climate conspiracy theories.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Political career
- 3.1 Climate change
- 3.2 Repealing Racial Discrimination Act
- 3.3 Australian Building and Construction Commission
- 3.4 Welfare
- 3.5 Sovereign citizen
- 3.6 Same-sex marriage
- 3.7 United Nations
- 3.8 International banking
- 3.9 US politics
- 3.10 Senate eligibility and aftermath
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Early life and education
Born in Disergarh, West Bengal, India, Roberts is the son of Ieuan Roberts, a Welsh coal miner, later a coal mine manager and then Queensland's chief inspector of mines, and Ethel Jago, from rural Queensland. His childhood home in India was staffed with servants, and as a child, Roberts built a miniature coalmine in the yard of his home.
Roberts graduated from the University of Queensland with Bachelor of Engineering (Honours). He also has an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. An Australian court found that Roberts had wrongly sought a $30,000 tax deduction for the costs of the MBA.
In 1977, Roberts began work as a coalface miner. During this time, until 1979, he worked in this role at five different mines across Australia before becoming a mining engineer. Thereafter, he worked as an engineer and general manager for various companies such as Peabody Coal Company, Consolidation Coal Company and Atlantic Richfield, though he had not held paid employment for eight years prior to his election in 2016.
From 1982 to 1988 Roberts worked as a manager for Coal & Allied at West Wallsend, New South Wales. The mine proved to be unprofitable due to its location, leading to its sale in 1988, at which time Roberts took a redundancy package. After completing an MBA, Roberts was appointed general manager at the Gordonstone coal mine in Queensland, the largest underground mine in Australia. Roberts left the role three years later. According to Roberts he resigned due to a lack of support during an industrial dispute, but others have suggested that he was let go after cost overruns at the mine.
That was the end of Roberts' mining career. With his wife, in 1994 he started a management consultancy, Catalyst For Corporate Performance, and became involved in Eastern and alternative self-help techniques including meditation.
Roberts served as chairman of the board of the Brisbane Montessori School from 1999 until 2003 and served voluntarily on the advisory board (as a parent representative member) of the International Montessori Council from 2000 until 2008. Timothy Seldin, chairman of the Montessori Foundation, stated that Roberts' views "are not representative of Dr Montessori's global vision, and do not reflect the views of the Montessori Foundation or the International Montessori Council".
Climate change denial
From 2006 until his election to the Senate, Roberts was a full-time political activist, speaking at rallies against the Labor Government's carbon tax, working for the climate change denying Galileo Movement, and sending hundreds of emails to political, scientific and media figures on the topic. He also met politicians, had universities launch academic inquiries into climate scientists and sent legal letters demanding the resignation of government ministers.
Roberts became a senator following the 2016 Australian federal election; however, he was subsequently found to be ineligible for election. He received 77 first-preference votes in that election, the lowest number ever for a member of the federal parliament.
Roberts promotes climate conspiracy theories, and does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change. He is the leader of the Galileo Movement, established in 2011. A 2011 Scientific American article on the group stated that it "recycles many of the same straw man arguments and distortions about the science that other groups have previously employed".
Roberts is a prolific letter writer. He writes to politicians, government agencies, universities and scientists. The topic of these letters is mostly formal complaints regarding allegations of corruption in climate science. He keeps an archive of his letters and replies at his website.
Roberts frequently states that NASA has falsified climate data to exaggerate warming in the Arctic. In November 2016, Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told Roberts he was "mistaken" to assert NASA had removed data to hide Arctic warming in the 1940s. Schmidt stated that the data was freely available online and that Roberts should check it himself, adding that he was surprised that Roberts was in fact a senator, and that his allegation of inappropriate temperature data adjustment is "the definition of denial".
Roberts' specific objection related to charts from Icelandic stations at Vestmannaeyjar and Teigarhorn, where temperatures from the 1930s and 1940s were adjusted down, removing the apparent warming recorded at that time. However a senior Icelandic meteorologist with a specialty in historical climatology emailed Roberts that the temperature adjustments, which were made because of a daytime bias and relocation of one of the stations, were "quite sound ... absolutely necessary and well founded".
Roberts wrote a 300,000-word essay called CSIROh! (a play on the initialism CSIRO) that, according to a report in The Australian newspaper, claimed global warming is a UN-inspired hoax to introduce an "antihuman" socialist New World Order, aided by bankers and politicians. The essay was described as "conspiracist rubbish" by climate scientist David Karoly and "utterly stupid" by conservative commentator Andrew Bolt.
The CSIROh! document contained an attack on the environment editor of one of Australia's major newspapers, Ben Cubby of The Sydney Morning Herald. In it, Roberts charged that Cubby had failed to report on corruption of climate science, was ignorant of science, and that his articles were dishonest, inaccurate and spread corruption of climate science, inter alia. Roberts sent a copy of CSIROh! to Cubby and demanded a response. Cubby responded by commenting that the essay was "littered with errors of all kinds: a mish-mash of muddled conjecture, impossible leaps of logic, fundamental misunderstandings of the scientific method, misread and misquoted research that has been poorly cited, internal contradictions, confused dates, spelling mistakes, and strangled grammar. It is, in all respects, a dud."
CSIRO briefing and response
In 2016, Roberts requested a briefing from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on scientific evidence of human-caused global warming. The briefing was delivered in September 2016, after which Roberts said he would consider the CSIRO's evidence, but also accused the CSIRO of pushing the "de-industrialisation" of Australia, and added that policies to mitigate climate change were "anti-human".
The report by Roberts and his co-authors included the spurious claim that sea level was not rising. They said that carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere "is not and cannot be affected by human production" and cannot affect atmospheric temperatures, denying the greenhouse effect. Their report misrepresented the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, alleged that international banks profit from climate change, and said that Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Maurice Strong "was remarkably successful in gaining control of weather agencies". It said that "Misrepresentation of science and climate is a form of control over people's minds" and that "schools today subtly teach people what to think".
Roberts demanded that the Australian government set up an independent inquiry into the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology. He also demanded that Australia reject the Paris Agreement and leave the United Nations.
The CSIRO subsequently issued a statement that "CSIRO stands behind its peer-reviewed science on environment, climate and climate change".
Clash with Brian Cox
In a clash between Roberts and physicist Brian Cox on the live television talk show Q&A on ABC TV broadcast 15 August 2016, Roberts claimed that engineer and blogger Steven Goddard (a pseudonym of Tony Heller) had shown the NASA temperature data for the 1930s were "warmer than recent decades". In The Guardian's assessment, Roberts was referring to a debunked conspiracy theory that claimed 1934 was hotter than 1998. Cox then asked if NASA, the Australian Academy of Science, and the Met Office in the UK were all collaborating to manipulate global temperature data, to which Roberts asked if he was being accused of claiming they were all collaborating, to which Cox responded: "What, they've all manipulated it in the same way and accidentally got to the same answer? Is that what you're saying?"
Repealing Racial Discrimination Act
Roberts is an advocate for freedom of speech, having called for the repeal of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, which makes it an offence to publicly "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" another person because of their race. He believes the 1995 section of the law was passed to "nobble" Andrew Bolt, a journalist who did not come to prominence until the early 2000's and was taken to court in 2011 by a group of Aboriginal people who were racially discriminated by an article he wrote in The Herald Sun, ordered to pay their legal costs, apologise and not publish the article again.
The presiding judge, Justice Bromberg, did not accept that 18D of the Act should provide a defence because he considered that the text contained "erroneous facts, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language".:para 8 Bromberg also wrote "The intrusion into freedom of expression is of no greater magnitude than that which would have been imposed by the law of defamation if the conduct in question and its impact upon the reputations of many of the identified individuals had been tested against its compliance with that law".:para 423
Roberts has blocked multiple people from responding to his tweets, in what has been described as contradictory to his free speech advocacy.
Australian Building and Construction Commission
Malcolm Roberts supports the reestablishment of the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, which would have powers to fight union corruption in the construction industry, because he believes that its existence would promote freedom. He has stated that "we want to protect union members rather than the union bosses," and criticised the CFMEU for its impact upon small businesses.
Roberts has frequently used a style of writing and terminology linked to the sovereign citizen movement, created by David Wynn Miller. This movement sees governments as illegitimate and attempts to assert the rights of individuals to ignore laws and taxes. Members of this movement aspire to exist outside both the social and legal bounds of society, and use colons and hyphens to evade what they claim is government enslavement via grammar.
In 2011, Roberts wrote an affidavit to then Prime Minister Julia Gillard – addressing her as "The Woman, Julia-Eileen: Gillard., acting as The Honourable JULIA EILEEN GILLARD" — demanding that she sign a contract exempting him from paying the carbon tax and compensation of up to $280,000 if she didn't provide him with disclosure on 28 points, including evidence that "the Commonwealth of Australia CIK# 000805157 is not a corporation registered on the United States of America securities exchange". Roberts signed himself as "Malcolm-Ieuan: Roberts., the living soul". Roberts has used this form of sovereign citizen address since, namely in a list of acknowledgements he wrote in 2013.
Roberts stated in 2016 that he did not identify as a "sovereign citizen".
Roberts believes that the United Nations is a threat to the Australian way of life: "Australian values and way of life are also at risk from insidious institutions such as the unelected swill that is the United Nations. Australia must leave the UN. We need an OzExit." He states that the UN is "destroying Australia’s sovereignty through deals such as Agenda 21".
In 135-page document titled "Why? Motives Driving Climate Fraud", Roberts states that international bankers (the Rothschilds, Goldman Sachs, the Rockefellers and the Warburg family) are surreptitiously trying to gain global control through environmentalism. Roberts' document cites the work of Eustace Mullins, an American anti-Semite and Holocaust denier who claimed that international banks and the US Federal Reserve were part of a Jewish conspiracy to introduce global socialism.
Roberts rejects the assertion that he is an anti-Semite, noting that two of the founders of the Galileo Movement were Jewish, and stated that "I respect and admire the Jews".
Roberts commented on the 2016 US presidential election by stating that "the only safe space for Hillary to occupy is a prison cell", and that he'd "settle for [her] going to Guantanamo, along with other terrorists". Roberts stated that his party, Pauline Hanson's One Nation, had hired former Trump economic adviser, Darren Brady Nelson.
Roberts celebrated the victory of president-elect Donald Trump by displaying a Gadsden flag at Parliament. He stated that the result supported his belief that people shouldn't serve the government, but the government should serve the people.
Senate eligibility and aftermath
Following the 2017 resignations of Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters due to dual citizenship and Matt Canavan's resignation from the Cabinet for similar reasons, Roberts' place of birth and citizenship was scrutinised by the media. Roberts released a statutory declaration to the effect that he is only an Australian citizen, despite birth records showing that he had previously been identified as a British national. A spokesperson for Roberts stated that Roberts was "choosing to believe that he was never British". Doubts persisted about the status of Roberts' Indian citizenship after it was argued in the media that under a precedent set by the Supreme Court of India, he continued to be a 'presumed citizen' of the country.
On 9 August 2017 the Senate referred his position to the High Court as Court of Disputed Returns. The reference was moved by his party leader Pauline Hanson, with his support. On 22 September 2017, the High Court of Australia found that Roberts was a citizen of the United Kingdom, through descent from his Welsh father, when he was elected at the 2016 federal election. His suitability for retaining his Senate seat depended on whether he had taken appropriate steps to renounce his British citizenship prior to his nomination. Between August and October 2017, Roberts stated several changing and contradictory positions regarding his citizenship, including that he had "absolute conviction" of being an Australian upon nomination, that he had emailed British authorities on 1 May 2016, first requesting to renounce his citizenship, and upon receiving no reply for a month, sent a subsequent email on 6 June (three days after his nomination) stating, "As there was no reply to my email last month (see below) and although I am confident I am not a British citizen, with this email I renounce any British citizenship should it exist." It was subsequently revealed that the email domains that Roberts had contacted were defunct and no longer in use. Roberts sent a formal application to renounce his United Kingdom citizenship on 2 November 2016, and his renouncement became official on 5 December 2016.
A final decision regarding Roberts's senatorial eligibility was scheduled to be heard by the High Court, as the Court of Disputed Returns, between 10 and 12 October 2017. However, the Court delegated the fact-finding task to a single judge, Justice Keane, before whom Roberts appeared on 21 September and who reported his findings on the following day.
Following Roberts's birth in India, the UK High Commission registered his birth as a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, and the Australian Trade Commissioner made an entry in his mother's passport that he "is the child of an Australian citizen but has not acquired Australian citizenship". The British nationality experts' opinion was that Roberts became a British citizen at birth (whether registered or not), and ceased to be a British citizen on 5 December 2016 when his renunciation was registered. Keane J found that Roberts knew he did not become an Australian citizen until May 1974 and that, when he nominated for the Senate, he knew there was a possibility that he might have been, and remained, a citizen of the United Kingdom. Keane J found that his actions before nomination had been ineffectual to renounce his UK citizenship, which had been belatedly renounced on 5 December 2016.
On 27 October 2017 the full High Court, as the Court of Disputed Returns, ruled that Roberts had been ineligible to be elected to the Parliament. Roberts and One Nation leader Pauline Hanson subsequently announced that Roberts would nominate as a candidate for the electoral district of Ipswich at the next Queensland state election. He was not elected. In February 2018, it was announced that Roberts would lead the One Nation Senate ticket in Queensland at the 2019 Australian federal election. Pauline Hanson said: "Malcolm Roberts has got the reputation as a powerhouse, the empirical science man, and he's really taken it up to members of parliament".
In September 2017, before the High Court ruling on Roberts's eligibility, blogger Tony Magrathea intiated a High Court action alleging that Roberts had sat in the Senate while disqualified, contrary to the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975. On 24 June 2019, the High Court found the allegation proved and ordered Roberts to pay a penalty of $6,000 to Magrathea.
With his citizenship clear, Roberts was elected to the Senate again in 2019 without issues.
- Senator Malcolm Roberts (Parliament of Australia)
- "True Disbeliever". The Australian. News Corp Australia. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- Killoran, Matthew. (10 August 2016). "One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts had deductions for self-education disallowed by tax office", The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
- "A court found now-senator Malcolm Roberts wrongly sought a $30,000 tax deduction for an MBA degree". Special Broadcasting Service. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- Killoran, Matthew (13 September 2016). "One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts in call for OzExit from United Nations". news.com.au. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
- "Montessori schools distance themselves from One Nation's Malcolm Roberts", Kelsey Munro, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 2016.
- Mackerras, Malcolm (2017). Submission to ACT Legislative Assembly (PDF). ACT Legislative Assembly.
- Cook, John (5 August 2016). "One Nation's Malcolm Roberts is in denial about the facts of climate change". The Conversation. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- Koziol, Michael (4 August 2016). "One Nation wins shock second Senate seat in Queensland". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
- ""Galileo Movement" Fuels Climate Change Divide in Australia". Scientific American. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
- "Who we are", Galileo Movement.
- "Alan Jones: Malcolm Roberts", Alan Jones, 4BC, 18 October 2016.
- Graham Readfearn (9 August 2016). "Why Malcolm Roberts' demand for 'empirical evidence' on climate change is misleading". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
- "Protecting freedom by understanding climate". Retrieved 21 August 2016.
- Hannam, Peter (21 November 2016). "NASA chief slaps down climate sceptic senator Malcolm Roberts: 'You hold a number of misc". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Q&A: Professor Brian Cox takes on senator-elect Malcolm Roberts in climate change stoush, ABC News Online, 16 August 2016
- "Malcolm Roberts says he will consider CSIRO's evidence on climate change", Paul Karp, The Guardian, 26 September 2016.
- Johnson, Scott K. (10 November 2016). "Australian senator rails against climate conspiracy in 42-page report". Ars Technica UK. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "Senator and climate change denier Malcolm Roberts walks out on bizarre press conference". The Australian. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
- "Malcolm Roberts Denies Climate Science". HuffPost. 7 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- "Debunking Malcolm Roberts: the case against a climate science denier". The Guardian. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- "Error in NASA climate data sparks debate". Geotimes. 16 July 2007. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- "David Leyonhjelm, Malcolm Roberts push for Section 18C of Racial Discrimination Act to be removed". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 7 August 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
- Eatock v Bolt  FCA 1103, (2011) 197 FCR 261, Federal Court (Australia).
- "The Racial Discrimination Act: Eatock v Bolt". The Law Report. ABC Radio. 4 October 2011.
- "Aussie conservatives seek repeal of law against racist speech", Jonathan Pearlman, The Straits Times, 24 August 2016.
- , Tom Allen, HuffPost, 31 March 2017.
- "Malcolm Roberts reveals One Nation intends to support Coalition's ABCC bill", Paul Karp, The Guardian, 23 October 2016.
- Phillip Coorey (26 October 2016). "Scott Morrison wins One Nation backing for $6b in welfare cuts". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Tran, Cindy (27 September 2016). "One Nation leader Pauline Hanson backs four weeks wait for the dole | Daily Mail Online". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Phillip Coorey (29 October 2016). "Pauline Hanson sounds budget warning, defends welfare cuts". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Vincent, Sam (1 November 2016). "Eyes wide open". The Monthly. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
- "Australia senator Malcolm Roberts calls climate change a UN conspiracy". BBC. 5 August 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- Koziol, Michael (5 August 2016). "One Nation senator-elect Malcolm Roberts wrote bizarre 'sovereign citizen' letter to Julia Gillard". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
- "One Nation, Climate Denial and those Jewish Bankers". The Conversation. 16 July 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "One Nation senator rejects anti-Semite claims". The Australian. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Malcolm Roberts loves the Jews, and other insights from a bizarre climate change press conference", Josh Taylor, Crikey, 7 November 2016.
- "One Nation's Malcolm Roberts Says Hillary Clinton Should Be Jailed". HuffPost. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
- "Strewth: On a roll". The Australian. 5 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "One Nation's Malcolm Roberts backs Donald Trump". Australian Financial Review. 2 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "One Nation senator unfurls revolutionary flag to celebrate Donald Trump victory", 9 News, 10 November 2016.
- Yaxley, Louise (26 July 2017). "Malcolm Roberts denies being dual citizen, but hasn't released proof". ABC News. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
- Yaxley, Louise; Belot, Henry (27 July 2017). "Malcolm Roberts 'choosing to believe' he was never British". ABC News. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
- Doherty, Ben (27 July 2017). "Malcolm Roberts citizenship explainer: one nation – or more?". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- "Anti-Immigration Australian Senator Now Has to Prove That He Is Not Indian". The Wire. 6 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Hutchens, Gareth (9 August 2017). "Pauline Hanson refers Malcolm Roberts to high court over citizenship". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
- Robertson, Joshua (22 September 2017). "Malcolm Roberts was dual British and Australian citizen when nominated, judge rules". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
- "In the Matter of questions referred to the Court of Disputed Returns pursuant to Section 376 of the Comnmonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) concerning Senator Malcolm Roberts" (PDF). High Court of Australia. Re Roberts  HCA 39 22 September 2017 C14/2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- "Ousted senator Malcolm Roberts to run in Queensland state election". ABC News. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- "Malcolm Roberts loses another poll". News Corporation. 25 November 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- "One Nation's Malcolm Roberts makes bid to return to Queensland Senate". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- Karp, Paul (12 July 2019). "Malcolm Roberts forced to pay $6,000 to blogger over dual citizenship breach". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
- Summary of parliamentary voting for Senator Malcolm Roberts on TheyVoteForYou.org.au
- Senator Malcolm Roberts (Parliamentary Profile)
- Malcolm Roberts (Qld) (official One Nation page)
- Senator Malcolm Roberts For Queensland (official Senator page)
- The Work of Malcolm Roberts (personal website)