THE mining mogul Gina Rinehart has sponsored a speech by the British climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton at a West Australian university, which is facing calls from academics to dump the talk.
Lord Monckton will give the Lang Hancock Lecture - named after Ms Rinehart's father - at Fremantle's University of Notre Dame today. His speech is called ''The Climate of Freedom''.
A spokeswoman for the university said the decision to choose Lord Monckton to speak was made ''in discussion with the sponsor of the event'', Hancock Prospecting, which is chaired by Ms Rinehart. The spokeswoman confirmed the sponsorship of Hancock Prospecting had covered ''all costs associated with hosting the lecture''.
Lord Monckton attracted controversy after comparing Labor's climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, to a Nazi in the United States last month.
A letter circulating among Australian academics calls on Notre Dame to cancel the lecture. ''In hosting this lecture, Notre Dame University is undermining the academic community,'' the letter signed by 50 academics and PhD students states. ''Notre Dame University has a responsibility to avoid promoting discredited views on an issue of public risk.''
Ms Rinehart is a shareholder in Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald.