Nationals thrash out net-zero goal demands

Bridget McKenzie was one of four Nationals on a subcommittee that thrashed out the party's climate demands in the past. Photo: Getty

Bridget McKenzie was one of four Nationals on a subcommittee that thrashed out the party's climate demands in the past. Photo: Getty Photo: Getty

A senior Nationals cabinet minister has repeated a colleague’s warning that a 2050 net-zero emissions commitment without the junior Coalition partner’s backing will be ugly.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted federal cabinet will make the decision on what he takes to a major climate change conference in Glasgow.

But Bridget McKenzie agreed with net-zero opponent and Queensland senator Matt Canavan there could be consequences if Mr Morrison forged ahead without Nationals approval.

“It will be ugly,” she told parliament on Wednesday.

Senator McKenzie is one of two cabinet ministers on a four-member Nationals subcommittee that is finalising the party’s demands to Mr Morrison.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, non-cabinet Resources Minister Keith Pitt and junior frontbencher Kevin Hogan make up the rest of the group.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce expects the subcommittee will be deliver a document to Mr Morrison on Thursday.

“It’s basically at arm’s length from me,” he said on Wednesday.

Mr Morrison said the government understood global climate action would challenge regional and rural Australians’ economic security.

“The response that is being made around the world to climate change will have a significant impact on Australia,” he told parliament.

“It will have a significant impact, particularly on rural and regional Australia.”

Senator McKenzie wants a guarantee renewable energy projects will generate long-term jobs in regional Australia.

“The reality is though that once they have been constructed, there isn’t long-term, ongoing careers in those renewable energy generation spaces at the moment,” she told the ABC.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese predicted there a major wake-up call for the Nationals if the party denied there were jobs in a greener economy.

“They’re not fair dinkum. There is enormous opportunities for regional Australia to benefit from a shift in the economy,” he told Cairns radio 4CA.

Nationals insist there is not an eye-watering price tag on the list of demands, despite reports the party might seek up to $20 billion in regional support.

“We are not here selling our support for some glass beads and mirrors at all,” Senator McKenzie said.

Mr Littleproud denied suggestions of a cash grab, insisting the party was seeking policy settings that protect regional Australia.

“We’re not thinking about 30 pieces of silver,” the deputy Nationals leader told the ABC.

“We don’t want to be sitting there asking for billions upon billions upon billions of dollars – that’s not responsible.”

It is understood the party’s 21 MPs and senators will meet again on Sunday ahead of a final decision.

Mr Joyce defended the timetable, despite criticism the Coalition had eight years in power to decide on climate policy.

“A decision that affects our nation for the next three decades at the very minimum deserves a week of sort of prudent deliberation and investigation,” he said.

“This is not a pantomime. We’re not grandstanding. We’re not trying to prevaricate. We are going to be diligent.”


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