A Liberal Party candidate has described calling climate change an ’emergency’ as ‘nothing short’ of child abuse.

Colleen Harkin, the candidate for the seat of Macnamara in Melbourne, was questioned by teenage climate activist Anjali Sharma during a forum on Sunday.

The 17-year-old high school student told Ms Harkin she many times ‘can’t sleep at night’ due to her fears of a worsening climate emergency.

She asked why young people weren’t being taught about the pressing issue and said she was fearful because she could ‘see what’s happening’.

Ms Harkin said the idea of teaching young children there was a climate emergency was ‘nothing short of almost abuse’.

Colleen Harkin, the Liberal Party's candidate for the seat of Macnamara, was questioned by climate activist Anjali Sharma during a forum on Sunday

Colleen Harkin, the Liberal Party's candidate for the seat of Macnamara, was questioned by climate activist Anjali Sharma during a forum on Sunday

Colleen Harkin, the Liberal Party’s candidate for the seat of Macnamara, was questioned by climate activist Anjali Sharma during a forum on Sunday

Anjali Sharma (pictured) told Ms Harkin she many times 'can't sleep at night' due to her fears of a worsening climate emergency

Anjali Sharma (pictured) told Ms Harkin she many times 'can't sleep at night' due to her fears of a worsening climate emergency

Anjali Sharma (pictured) told Ms Harkin she many times ‘can’t sleep at night’ due to her fears of a worsening climate emergency

‘The earth is not going to implode next week, next month, next year… We all want a clean environment – we all want that,’ she said.

‘But to teach children that there is an emergency is nothing short of almost abuse.

‘We have eight-year-old children who are stressed about the environment. We’ve taught them to be stressed.’

Anjali is a Year 12 student at Melbourne’s Huntingtower School and an outspoken activist who regularly attends climate change protests.

Last month the high school student, along with seven others, launched a class action court case against federal environment minister Sussan Ley. 

Ms Ley successfully appealed against a court ruling that she had a legal duty of care to protect young people from the impacts of climate change.

Ms Sharma told the forum on Sunday her grandmother in India fainted from the intense heat as temperatures in Delhi and Karachi reach 49C in Spring. 

Ms Sharma, 17, is a Year 12 student at Melbourne's Huntingtower School and an outspoken activist who regularly attends climate change protests

Ms Sharma, 17, is a Year 12 student at Melbourne's Huntingtower School and an outspoken activist who regularly attends climate change protests

Ms Sharma, 17, is a Year 12 student at Melbourne’s Huntingtower School and an outspoken activist who regularly attends climate change protests

The high school student took to Twitter on Sunday to share her thoughts about the forum

The high school student took to Twitter on Sunday to share her thoughts about the forum

The high school student took to Twitter on Sunday to share her thoughts about the forum

‘Even if Australia magically abided by the Greens 75 per cent reduction in the next six or seven years it would make zero difference,’ Ms Harkin replied. 

She said it would be impossible to pursue the reduction by 2030 because nations like China and India were burning fuels at increasing rates. 

The high school student posted video from the forum to Twitter as well as a screenshot of an email she received from the candidate after the event. 

‘Colleen Harkin told children who have been informed about the extent of the climate crisis that they have been abused,’ she tweeted on Tuesday. 

‘Child abuse is such a pressing issue, as is climate change. Dismissing BOTH issues by conflating them in such a heartless way – how is that okay?’

Anjali said she emailed Ms Harkin’s office asking for an apology and received a reply that told the student she had missed the point.

Last month Ms Sharma, along with seven others, unsuccessfully launched a class action court case against federal environment minister Sussan Ley (pictured, outside a Sydney court)

Last month Ms Sharma, along with seven others, unsuccessfully launched a class action court case against federal environment minister Sussan Ley (pictured, outside a Sydney court)

Last month Ms Sharma, along with seven others, unsuccessfully launched a class action court case against federal environment minister Sussan Ley (pictured, outside a Sydney court)

Ms Sharma said she had emailed Ms Harkin's office asking for an apology and received a reply (pictured) that told the student she had missed the point

Ms Sharma said she had emailed Ms Harkin's office asking for an apology and received a reply (pictured) that told the student she had missed the point

Ms Sharma said she had emailed Ms Harkin’s office asking for an apology and received a reply (pictured) that told the student she had missed the point

‘You seem to have missed the point I was making – which was – that excessive and unreasonable activism around the issue of climate change is having an untold impact on children’s and young people’s mental state, health and well-being,’ it read.

Ms Harkin released a statement on Tuesday describing her language as ‘clumsy’. 

‘I accept my language was clumsy; the point I was seeking to make was that we should be teaching our children hope, not fear,’ she said. 

Ms Larkin also threw her support behind controversial fellow Liberal Party candidate Katherine Deves and said she shared the same concerns about transgender women competing in female sport.

Ms Deves has been widely condemned after transphobic deleted tweets were unearthed.

They included describing trans children as ‘surgically mutilated and sterilised’ and implied they only wanted to transition because they were on the autism spectrum.

Other tweets compared transgender activists to the Nazis and said she felt ‘triggered’ whenever she saw the LGBTQI+ rainbow flag.

Liberal Candidate Katherine Deves has come under fire for comparing her campaign to 'Save Women's Sports' to activism against the Holocaust

Liberal Candidate Katherine Deves has come under fire for comparing her campaign to 'Save Women's Sports' to activism against the Holocaust

Liberal Candidate Katherine Deves has come under fire for comparing her campaign to ‘Save Women’s Sports’ to activism against the Holocaust

Ms Deves also once compared her campaigning for ‘Save Women’s Sports’ to activism against the Holocaust. 

Ms Larkin said the issue was ‘sensitive and delicate’, but fairness in women’s sport had to be addressed, The Age reported.

‘We’ve got situations where someone has dedicated their entire life to being the best swimmer in the world and at two minutes to midnight, somebody who has transitioned who’s six foot four with shoulders this wide and feet this big can enter a female swimming race,’ she said at the forum.

She also spoke out against gender-neutral language, saying: ‘If you show me someone who chestfeeds a baby, I’ll show you a hungry baby.’

Labor holds the Macnamara with a 6.25 per cent margin, but Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May remains confident she can win the seat.

Ms Hodgins-May said the Liberals’ comparison of climate anxiety to child abuse ‘insulted survivors of traumatic violence and sexual assault’. 

Source: DailyMail

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