CANBERRA, AAP – Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said regional industries would need to be protected before the Nationals commit to a government plan for net-zero emissions by 2050.
As the government comes under pressure to develop a future climate policy target with the help of their junior coalition partners, the Nationals leader said a move away from fossil fuels would impact other areas of the economy.
“We have to make sure we are protecting jobs, we have to understand that we are protecting the economy,” he told Channel Seven..
“If people move away from it, you have to move away from some of the support that comes in the way of pensions and healthcare because the money won’t be there.”
Senior Nationals MPs have said regional Australia would be most affected by government attempts to commit to net-zero.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the party would need to see any detail before it commits to a plan.
“The fact is, regional Australians have paid most of the bill for reducing emissions,” he told the Nine Network.
“We’ve paid that bill. It is time to square the ledger.
“As National Party members, we’ll work pragmatically together but we need to see the detail.”
Fellow Nationals MP Darren Chester, who’s announced he’s taking time away from the party, told the ABC a climate policy was needed.
“The prime minister is right – we need a plan, but not just a number in 2050,” he said.
“What’s important is that we’re a part of the conversation.”
It comes as the prime minister remains non-committal on whether he will attend major UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.
Scott Morrison, who returned to Canberra on Sunday night following talks in Washington, said a final decision had not been made about his attendance, although Australia will be represented at the conference.
Outgoing Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon said the government was at war with itself over future climate policy.
“One former minister has already left the party room, and I’m sure plenty on the right of the debate are threatening to do otherwise,” he told Channel Seven.
Resources Minister Keith Pitt would not comment on whether the Nationals would agree to a net-zero plan, saying discussions had yet to occur within the party.
“We need to see the proposal first, and until I see what is put on the table. I won’t pre-empt it,” he said.
“I can be certain that everyone has the opportunity to have their say.”