Coalition MP, Craig Kelly, has been temporarily banned from posting on Facebook, after multiple posts were found to be violating the platform’s rules.
In a 46 minute, wide-ranging interview that took place while the House of Representatives was in session, the government backbencher spoke to Gizmodo about his Facebook suspension, his belief that Big Pharma and public servants are trying to promote the science about climate change or the evidence discrediting unauthorised COVID-19 treatments and more.
Craig Kelly confirmed that he has been unable to post to Facebook — which he does frequently, to share misinformation and conspiracies — due to “four strikes” against the platform’s misinformation and harm policy, as first reported by the Guardian.
Craig Kelly has commented on one of his posts saying “FB have shut me down”. He hasn’t published a new post in three days. pic.twitter.com/LiDXpDSo1m
— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) February 11, 2021
Kelly said he was able to overturn one post’s deletion but the rest remained unchanged after appeal. Posts that were deleted included a claim that children wearing masks is child abuse and promotion of disproven and unproven COVID-19 treatments.
“I would say this is an attack on free speech. It’s an attack on the contest of ideas and political sphere, and nothing that I posted can be deemed as incorrect or false in any way whatsoever,” he said.
Craig Kelly’s seven- day suspension from Facebook is expected to finish today.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
Where do you find all these fringe studies you post on Facebook?
KELLY: I find most of this from emails and messages on my Facebook Messenger. People send me stuff “have you seen this?”
How did you first come across [disproven and unproven COVID-19 treatments]?
KELLY: I’ll tell ya how it started. A good 9 months ago someone sent me a YouTube video of a doctor […] He said ‘I’ve got information for the president of the United States, I’ve got this therapy and it’s highly successful, I’ve got to get this message to him.’ And I thought to myself, that’s a good, positive message […]
Before I posted it, I checked the credibility of it. He had this long Jewish beard. He looked a bit … I looked him up to see that he was on the up and up and I satisfied myself. So I posted it to Facebook.
There’s been reporting showing that you’re likely to face significant challenges at your upcoming preselection. Do you think you’ll be chosen by the party to stand for the next election?
KELLY:I’m confident that the Liberal Party … It’s supposed to be the party of free speech. I think I should be. That’s the principle of the party. I’m standing up for the party. I’ve already been shown that I’m correct. Every day there’s more evidence to show that I’m correct.
Say that hypothetically that you don’t get preselected […] The Great Australia Party’s Rod Culleton has been standing up for you online. You were in Parliament while he was there briefly. What’s your relationship with him?
KELLY: I think I might have bumped into him once in Parliament House. If I walked past him in the street I wouldn’t say hi. I’ve never had a telephone conversation with him.
If you believe Australia’s top medical experts aren’t promoting [disproven and unproven COVID-19 treatments] — why do you think that’s the case? Surely they’d want a treatment for COVID-19.
KELLY: Maybe the people they’re relying on to put evidence in front of them are incompetent and not researching wide enough? Every decision that anyone makes in life, you gather as much evidence as you can, and you weigh the evidence. You say “Oh I think this is highly significant”. Whoever’s pulling that all in [for Australia’s medical regulators] is only giving themselves 5% of the picture.
Why don’t you think COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory?
KELLY: I don’t want to give medical advice. That should be between someone and their doctor.
You’re as much as a medical expert as me. How confident are you that you’re interpreting studies in the right way?
KELLY: I’m absolutely. You’re looking at the data, it’s more statistical analysis than medical – how many people in the study, how big the dose is.
You’ve accused Australia’s medical regulators of ignoring evidence, and you’ve also accused the Bureau of Meteorology of ‘rewriting history’ to try and prove climate change. If you’re so skeptical of government, why are you in it?
KELLY: It’s one of your jobs in Parliament to hold the bureaucracy to account.
You’ve been in Parliament for more than a decade. If you’re holding these groups to account, why haven’t things changed?
KELLY: The wheels of government turn slowly.
These excerpts have been edited for clarity and length.