Simon Birmingham denies that the Coalition’s climate policy is dictated by the Nationals
Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has denied the government’s climate policies were being held hostage by Conservative forces, ahead of a meeting of national MPs to strike a deal on a net zero emissions reduction target.
- National members meet to discuss the goal of reducing net zero carbon emissions on Sunday afternoon
- Some members have been very vocal in their criticism of the policy, saying it would decimate regional communities
- Australia under pressure to officially adopt target ahead of Glasgow Climate Summit
Members and Senators of the Coalition’s junior partner will meet on Sunday afternoon to discuss a plan to reach the benchmark by 2050.
While there is a feeling that nationals will end up supporting the policy, the meeting will likely be dominated by the discussion of what concessions party members will ask for in return for their support.
This could prove to be a costly exercise for the taxpayer, with some nationals having already publicly insisted that hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support will need to be provided to regional communities and industries which they believe will be decimated by politics. .
The debate precedes the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, in which the Prime Minister confirmed his participation on Friday.
Senator Birmingham rebuffed suggestions that nationals dictate policy, despite their proportionately low membership in the coalition party hall.
“The government decides the government’s policy on climate change, the government includes all of our members – Liberal members, National Party members, LNP, CLP, etc.,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News.
“So we are bringing together people from all over the country so that we can effectively examine all the implications of the problems.”
In defending the situation, Senator Birmingham also appeared to urge his national counterparts to support the goal of net zero.
“There is no point in pretending that there are not parts of the Australian community that are concerned about the implications of these decisions,” he said.
“Other countries are already making decisions that will impact Australia, and that’s why we need to invest and position ourselves to make sure we can take advantage of the opportunities and make the transition successful, to protect jobs, to protect the regions.”
The federal government is vowing to reveal its revised emissions targets ahead of the Glasgow summit, with Australia under pressure to come to talks with more ambitious commitments to reduce carbon pollution.
Labor has insisted they will set their emissions reduction targets, including commitments for 2030, as the next election approaches and after the coalition shows its hand.
“We don’t know what the government’s ambition is,” shadow finance minister Katy Gallagher told ABC’s Insiders program.
“I think what we’ve seen, eight years, three prime ministers, 21 energy policies and now the prime minister trying to negotiate a last minute deal with the National Party on what they are actually standing for.
“The government has to govern, they are in charge, they have to accept net zero, they have to legislate on that target and they have to set average targets – that’s the minimum the government should do.”
Senator Gallagher was asked if she thought adopting a carbon price would be the most effective way to achieve net zero, as suggested by organizations including the Business Council of Australia.
“We are looking at everything, we are looking at all the information from all the critics, we are monitoring Glasgow and we will announce our policies before the election,” she replied.
“I think it’s the responsible thing to do.
“We will have different components to these policies, but I am not in a position this morning to let you know exactly what they are.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott repealed Labor carbon pricing legislation after winning the 2013 election, after years of campaigning against the policy.