Senator Eric Abetz has slammed the Greens over support for an anti-coal hoax. Photo: Simon Bennett
The Coalition have labelled the Greens the ''epitome of extremism'' for the party's support of the anti-coal hoax.
Leading the attack, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, Eric Abetz also said the Greens had a ''disrespect for the rule of law'' for congratulating an activist being investigated for a hoax that temporarily wiped more than $314 million off the value of a coal company.
Greens leader Christine Milne. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
"It's taken less than a fortnight after supposedly revising their platform for the Greens to again reveal their extreme political tendencies," Senator Abetz said in a statement.
He linked the Greens to "extreme elements with communist connections".
"With the Greens it is always a case of the ends justifying the means,’’ he said.
Hoaxer Jonathan Moylan. Photo: Kitty Hill
On Tuesday Greens leader Christine Milne and her colleague Lee Rhiannon endorsed a controversial hoax, in which an anti-coal mining activist, Jonathan Moylan, issued a fake media release from ANZ Bank pretending that the bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan facility from Whitehaven Coal because of ''unacceptable damage to the environment'' caused by the company’s Maules Creek coal project.
Mr Moylan says officers from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have raided his camp in northern NSW and seized his laptop and phone. He is now obtaining legal representation.
He has admitted that to highlight environmental concerns he tricked investors by designing a fake ANZ press template, website and dummy email inbox online and by impersonating a company spokesperson.
Following the prank, shares in Whitehaven, which counts struggling coal baron Nathan Tinkler as its biggest shareholder, fell from $3.52 to $3.21 in rapid time before the stock was put into a trading halt.
Asked if he had qualms about lying to the public to achieve environmental ends, Mr Moylan, who belongs to the anti-coal mining group Frontline Action Coal, said: ‘‘Our primary concern is the impact of this mine on the environment at the end of the day.’’
On Tuesday, Senator Milne described Mr Moylan’s hoax as being ''part of a long and proud history of civil disobedience, potentially breaking the law, to highlight something wrong''.
Her comments followed a tweet by her colleague Senator Rhiannon, who wrote: ''Congrats to Jonathan Moylan, Frontline Action on Coal, for exposing ANZ investment in coalmines.''
Senator Milne’s statement and Senator Rhiannon's tweet come as the Greens try to appeal to new constituencies and recast themselves as less ‘‘extreme’’ in an election year.
Last month, the party revealed a new platform of policies aimed at presenting a smaller target to critics.
Senator Rhiannon has previously seen controversy over her support for an anti-Israel boycott policy in the 2011 NSW state election.
Last year, she apologised after it emerged she helped to ghost-write an opinion article, attacking her party for accepting a $1.7 million donation from the web entrepreneur Graeme Wood.